I have a wayward child.
Yes. Despite a long-standing desire and effort to raise children that know and love God, I have a child that is rejecting our faith.
It breaks my heart.
Little has ever broken my heart more, and, as I head into my first Easter ever with a child that shuns our faith, it hurts more and more each day.
Luckily, I know that I am not alone.
Many mothers have faced this before. Many face it now. And more will face it in the future.
It is a hard cross to carry, but is not one that we have to carry alone.
God is with us. And, so are intercessors like St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine.
If you don't know much about these, let me explain their connectedness to wayward children in a nutshell:
St. Monica was the mother of a difficult child named Augustine. For over fifteen years, she cried countless tears and prayed prayer after prayer for his conversion, and, once, when she complained to St. Ambrose about Augustine, St. Ambrose told her, "Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine."
St. Monica took this advice, persisted in her prayer, and, eventually her prayers - and the friendship that Augustine and Ambrose struck up - paid off. With God's grace and mercy, Augustine not only converted, but became a saint and doctor of the church.
One wayward child - three incredible saints close to the mind and heart for God that can intercede for us.
So it is that I, though heartbroken, am encouraged.
I know that wayward children can return to God. I know I am not alone. I know powerful intercessors are in heaven and that grace abounds.
I also understand three lessons and am taking them to heart. Perhaps, if you have a wayward child, you might be convicted by these lessons, too:
1. Pray. Persistently pray. More than you talk to your child about God, talk to God about your child. Your prayers are heard and your persistence won't go unrewarded. Our God is one of grace and mercy. Our God is bigger than our problems.
2. Pray for an "Ambrose". Perhaps frustration, misunderstanding, and more have built so much of a barrier between you and your child that your child can no longer hear truth from you. It happens.
Don't fight it. Instead of shouting yourself hoarse without being heard, use your voice to pray for an "Ambrose" to enter your child's life.
Pray that God will bring a person of faith into your child's life who your child can hear with greater openness than your child hears you.
Pray that just as God sent Ambrose to Augustine, He will send your child someone with the right combination of connection, heart, and motive to move your child back to God. It can happen. St. Augustine is proof!
3. Ask for intercession for your child. St. Monica knows our heartache. St. Ambrose knows how to reach wayward ones. St. Augustine knows the magnificent glory of conversion.Ask them to pray for your wayward child.
Pray words like these:
St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine, please intercede for my child.
St. Ambrose, you know the way to a wayward child's heart. You nudged St. Augustine's heart towards God. Please intercede for my child. Please ask the Lord Jesus to soften my child's heart and to prompt someone like you to take interest in my child, to reach out and be heard by my child, to lead my child toward God.
St. Monica, you know the heartbreak I feel. You understand the hurting, hopeless despair that befalls a mother when her child rejects our loving God. You know the longing for a child to return wholeheartedly to Christ in His Church. Please, help me. Please help me persevere in prayer as you did. Please intercede, begging the Lord to send me the grace to love my child fully through this difficult period and to draw my child toward God in whatever ways I can - and, if I cannot - to send someone who can.
Please, dear St. Monica, intercede that like your beloved Augustine, my child may come to know our loving God.
St. Augustine, you know what it is like to reject God, and you know what it is like to turn away from that rejection - to repent, and, then embrace God fully. Please intercede for my child. Please ask our Lord to send as much grace as is necessary for my child to hear God's call and to answer it.
This time is difficult and sometimes seems impossible to deal with, but with Christ, all things are possible, I know. You, dear Saints, know this, too. Thank you for your intercession.