When Your Faith Fails Your Children

What do you when your faith fails?  I realize that there are all kinds of failures.  Most common is when there is a moral failure.  Imagine for a moment going into daughter’s bedroom to tell her that you have been unfaithful to your mother.  Imagine the hurt that such a failure brings to all of your relationships.  Imagine the feeling that you have a Scarlet Letter tattooed on your forehead for many years, if not your entire life.  I know some who read this have had this experience and my hearts goes out to you.  I pray that all who are touched by this kind tragedy may move on in healing andreconciling grace.

Having a moral failure isn’t the only kind of faith failing.  I’ve failed as a father when it comes to my faith.  I knew I fail the day my children (now adults) told me that they while growing up they never felt that they could live up to my faith.  They explained that when they looked at me they saw this sort of moralistic persona that they simply couldn’t achieve.  I remember the day they felt safe enough to have this discussion.  We were in our family room.  I had begun a journey of loosing my religion.  I had become vulnerable.

While my children were young and especially as they moved into their teenage years I thought the best way to protect them from making poor choices was to keep my past failures from them.  I didn’t tell them about the poor choice I made when I lost my virginity.  I didn’t tell them about the poor choice I made when I started abusing alcohol.  I didn’t tell them about the drug use and the addiction that followed.

Whenever they asked me questions about pre-Jesus days I changed the subject.  The only image they had of me was this sort of Leave It to Beaver, Mayberry persona.  Unfortunately I robbed them of my wonderful story of life change and God’s grace.  I robbed them of sorting through the disappointment and then acceptance of a dad who was far less than perfect.  I also robbed them of the joy of knowing that God had done something really special in my life…in our life.

I remember the day I came clean.  My daughter was the first to speak.  “Dad, to be completely honest with you, when I looked at your life I thought I could never live up to your standard so why bother.”  I had inadvertently placed a heavy religious burden on her and my son.  Since then I have confessed my sins and come out of the closet as a mere human saved by grace and in very much need of grace day-by-day. I wish I had heeded Paul advice to “confess our sins to one another”  much earlier.

What I didn’t realize was that some of their questions about my life was a reflection of their own struggles and need to work to through those challenges and struggles.  The Good News is they like me are still working through their challenges and struggles.  Since loosing my religion and rediscovering the simplicity of Jesus and his ways they have a dad who is far more approachable.  It’s the Jesus way.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30.

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2 responses to “When Your Faith Fails Your Children

  1. It’s been several years since we were in a growth group together and wow have I seen you and myself change dramatically over those years. I understand your choice to hold back on your previous life to God saving grace. Shell and I too have waited to share that with our kids. I know I didn’t and don’t want to tell them that information too early as to not want to give them the idea that it’s okay or permission to do as I did. As they grow we share things that are surrounding them at that particular time and share examples of our mistakes. This approach has worked well with Kyle not sure yet with Haley or Lauren. I know that Kyle has a special place in his heart for making wise choices. He isn’t perfect but I know he has a true heart for God and trust our advice and experience. I think Haley is one that is going to have to experience it to believe it no matter how blue we get in the face trying to save her from mistakes. I’ll bet that God does what He has done for so many I know and turns all those mistakes into a grace filled life that will teach her children. Shell and I are helping her grow roots for Christ that are deep and no matter how long the drought may be the root will live and spring out vigorously in time to grow new fruit. When Lauren came into our lives we had already started to follow Christ and her heart reflects a life of six years being loved by Christ followers. She totally has Christ in her heart. We are attending “The Big Splash” at MLC this weekend with her as she already understands what it means to be a Christian and already has an awesome relationship with Christ. She is asking about being baptized. Seeing God in our children is a daily reminder of Gods grace and involvement in our lives. I think your opening up to your children came at the perfect time just as God had intended. Thanks for sharing your TRUE heart and story with us also.

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