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Wayward Children - Eternity Is A Long Time


The other day, I woke up early, and found myself thinking about my oldest son, Ryan. Ryan is a very good looking 27-year-old, single guy - who serves in the USCG. However, Ryan has not been active in the LDS Church, physically, since he graduated from high school. Although emotionally, his activity began to waver in his early teens. As we were in the middle of raising our busy family, that was easy to ignore. We were already dealing with one outwardly "rebellious" child. Our oldest.

Ryan was a fairly quiet young man, who rarely spoke out, about anything. He had developed early on, the art of saying what a parent wanted to hear, and yet doing subtlety what HE wanted to do. He kept himself under the radar, so to speak.

On the other hand, my oldest daughter - always let us know how strict we were as parents, and the difficulties she had in living the Gospel.

After my husband was released as our ward Bishop, she completely rebelled - and went inactive for the next five years. She was 16.

My husband and I, have raised five children. Each one of our children, have at one time or another, given us serious cause for deep concerns. Two of my children, went completely inactive, and ONE continues to remain so...

As I think back on those tumultuous years, of raising four teenagers simultaneously, I find myself actually questioning -- was that really me? Our first four children came pretty fast. Our oldest was 5-1/2 when the fourth child was born. Things seemed to be going along really well. I can't say for sure, the exact turning point, but I do know that when my daughter took that bold step to become officially inactive from Church - my world as I had created it in my mind - EXPLODED!

I was now, an LDS parent, of a wayward child.

How could this have happened? What did we do wrong? Where did we go wrong? And a multitude of other very introspective questions, that any LDS parent in the same situation, torments themselves with. But the most important question that I needed to have an answer for, and immediately, was HOW to bring her back, and - as soon as possible!

As heartbroken as I was, as her mother - for this to have occurred, I also understand now, how shameful such a situation felt, for both my husband and I. LDS parents of wayward children, unfortunately, suffer from a deep sense of failure. What I didn't realize at the time, was that these feelings of failure - also came from a sense of lost pride. And that's, never good. (I will write about this specific issue, in the near future -- much learned)

That was going on now, almost 15 years ago. It seems like another lifetime. However, the reality is, and continues to be - my son Ryan, who remains "less" active. I'm not nearly as stressed about his inactivity, as I was when my daughter went inactive. Perhaps it is because, she has come full circle, and I have seen that our children will return, in time. I have a strong testimony of eternal covenants, and I have learned SO much! I remember back then, when I first read this quote...

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).


that ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME, and that through faith and diligence to my temple covenants - the promised blessings, of an ETERNAL FAMILY will be realized.

I'm not one, who believes that the keeping of my personal covenants, will necessarily assure Exaltation for children who choose to live contrary to God's commandments, in this life -- but I can HOPE. Our Father in Heaven, lost a third of His children, because of rebellion; our brothers and sisters. However, I do not believe that because someone does not make it into the Celestial Kingdom, that they are "lost", either.

What I do feel an assurance of, is that each one of us, our children included, will have the opportunity to exercise our individual moral agency, to the extent that we will have JOY. Adam taught, "that men are, that they might have joy". Because each one of us have kept our first estate, I have a strong testimony, that our ultimate destination from this point on, is JOY.

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:1-2

Is this not JOYFUL! Certainly, if each one of us has as our Eternal Destiny, to be a part of His Kingdom and dwell in a mansion prepared for us - then not one us of will EVER be lost!




tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs


Highly recommended reading, if you or someone you know, has an inactive member of the family.


"When A Child Wanders" by Robert L. Millet

40 comments :

  1. Thanks for this insight. My children are approaching their teenage years and I wonder and worry about the choices they'll have before them. I will keep your experience tucked away in my memory in case I deal with the same situation some day.

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  2. I became inactive at 17, and it took 20 years for me to wise up. Don't ever lose hope. Please be aware of the biggest myth in the church, which is that if you are inactive you have either lost your testimony or never had one. The truth is that most inactive people have strong testimonies. Someday I'll tell you my story.

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    1. Laurie I would love to hear your story when you are ready to share. We have a son who is slowly choosing to leave the church. I am told by the spirit that this is not the end but I know it's going to be a very long road. It would be good to hear someone's story to give us hope.

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  3. i probably should be inactive, but i am not for some strange reason. call me stubborn. i have had quite a few interesting church related situations in my relatively short lifetime. i agree with laurie too. i think our "activity" and our testimony is such a personal, sometimes private matter. i feel that what we may go thru is our own business...between us and the Lord. so one person may feel one thing, another something else. one person who is "active" may in reality have no real testimony, and another "less active" person may be a phenomenal member of the church. (but who are we to judge anyway...HATE the whole judging thing) one may choose to worship in their own "way" so to speak...it all comes down to your personal testimony of Christ. do you believe in Him or not. i like laurie, could tell a few stories of my own.

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  4. Charlotte -

    Although we can never know exactly what choices are children will make a long life's path, we can be assured that there is purpose in all of our experiences. We as parents, are intended to grow, through the process of raising our children. Just remember, that you - are the student:-)

    tDMg

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  5. Laurie -

    I have no doubt that for the most part, those who choose inactivity for a season, do have a testimony that the Church is true.

    After going through the inner examination that every LDS parent of an inactive child puts themselves through - I have found peace, knowing that the Gospel was always taught in our home.

    Agency is a powerful principle. Until I became a parent, I never realized just how powerful. Now, I have great reverence for God's plan, in allowing us the agency to exercise it, as WE see fit.

    I look forward to hearing your "story".

    tDMg

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  6. shawna -

    If the truth be known, I believe that many of us could tell some very interesting and even heart wrenching "stories", that have tested our activity levels, in the Church. I'm with you, I detest the whole "judging" of one another, amongst the Saints. I have felt judged as the parent of inactive children, and felt my children judged as well. And that is just one of my stories...

    I too, for other reasons than I have written about here, which are very personal, have had my desire to be among the "flock" severely tested. And you are spot on, about these decisions coming down to our testimony of Jesus Christ. We as a people, are so NOT perfect. Thank heaven for the Atonement, and our understanding of it in our lives.

    Let me also say, that I really believe that when children go astray, it is much different than when once active adults, choose inactivity . The dynamics are most always, vastly different.

    Thanks, Shawna - for sharing your thoughts.

    tMDg

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  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. I gives me much to think about as I am starting to raise my first teenager with 5 more to raise. I hope and pray as you do, but must remember that their agency may lead them to choose wrong. I hope to think back to your comments here when I need them.

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  8. Travis -

    You're welcome. There is much more support in the Church, today, for parents of "wayward" children. When my first child went inactive, it wasn't something that people were comfortable talking about. I sure wasn't. I had little, to no - support. I could hardly even find a talk on the subject. I felt very alone.

    I remember feeling at the time, that someday I wanted to be able to speak openly about it, and help others who have similar experiences to know that they are not alone, and that their child's inactivity is NOT about them. It's about individual agency -- and that, must be respected, and trusted.

    tDMg

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  9. this post struck a nerve with me...not in a bad way though-:-).
    we as parents, i feel generally do our best to rear our children in the right way. we make mistakes along the way too. but without a shadow of a doubt, we love them unconditionally and more than anyone can even begin to measure. with them growing up we teach them correct principles and basic right and wrong. then comes a time when they need to stand on their own two feet and march on in life by themselves. if the path they choose isnt exactly what we had in mind for them, that really isnt our choice anymore. its theirs. we need to be big enough to love and support these adults as human beings, as children of God even when they may not be living their lives as we think they should. they need the support from those who truly love them, not ridicule and conflict. when there is judgement going on in the church regarding these kids (or anyone for that matter), it makes my blood boil. what would Christ do? would he alienate them? NO! would he talk behind their backs? NO! would he alienate their parents? NO, NO and NO!! He would love them for who they are, make them know they are welcome in His house anytime regardless of the circumstances and He would forgive. so, i think we all need to take a page from His book and be more loving and more accepting of those who may be struggling AND their parents. just show some love. its really not that hard.

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  10. shawna -

    That's good... and, not in a bad way either. lol

    We as LDS parents need to discuss the issue of how we and others respond toward our children who choose inactivity from the Church. As I've brought up earlier, this is about individual agency, which as I have painfully learned, must be reverenced -- literally!

    One thing that I know for absolute SURE, is that whatever choices our children make in this life - good or bad - those choices are NOT about us, as parents. I tagged this post with "Eternity Is A Long Time", because of my belief and TRUST in the principle and PROCESS of "individual moral agency". Bottom line, our children are not us!

    And you are right, we as the parents of these children, desperately need the support of those around us -- as this is a very difficult and sensitive issue. However, it becomes much more painful, when loving support and understanding of those around us - is not found.

    When my daughter went "inactive", I actually had a very close friend, at the time, infer that it was due to her father's time serving as the bishop. Talk about blood boiling! At the time, that about set me over the deep end. Recovery, took years...

    LDS parents have one intention, and that is to raise healthy children who "come" to love the Lord and desire to keep His commandments. Not one of us do it so perfectly, that there will not be casualties along the way.

    I never truly appreciated, nor have ever I been so deeply grateful for the atonement, than when I needed to understand it, on behalf of those within my immediate family!

    Of those, who truly know of the "long-suffering" that parents of wayward children are called to endure in this life, it is both our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. We are in the raising of these children, together. Prayer is a powerful tool, for finding that comfort and added faith, which becomes vital.

    tDMg

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  11. I don't visit this blog often, but decided to take a look today. I guess this is what I needed to read. My brother and a couple of my brother-in-law's are "less" active and it is hard watching them make decisions that are contrary to those things we have been taught. This reminded me to keep hope and continue to show my love for them.
    Thank you.

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  12. Melissa -

    I'm so glad if something you have read here, has helped encourage you even a little bit - to have greater faith and hope, in the wonderful Plan of Salvation.

    We need to just hold our hearts wide open, and not base our acceptance of one another on our Church activity. There is so much good in people, that has nothing to do with their current activity. Lets focus on these things, and get on with life:-)

    tMDg

    BTW, I popped over to your blog. LOVE your photography. I'm an amateur photographer and would love to improve my skills. Nice work:-)

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  13. This post struck a chord with many it seems. I was thinking about my stepson this morning in the temple. He came home from his mission and stayed active just long enough to be the witness at my sealing to my husband, and then became inactive. He married a non-member, who would have been baptized had he given her any support. When his daughter turned 8, she wanted to be baptized, so he decided he'd better get his act together and go to church. He made an appointment with the Bishop for the following Sunday -- but he was killed on Friday filling a pothole on I-5. It has always given my husband and I comfort to know that Heavenly Father knew where Matt's heart was. Since his death, his wife and daughters have all been baptized, and hopefully someday there will be a trip to the temple.

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  14. Laurie -

    Wow. Your story is both tragic, and beautiful. I'm grateful that you were given the knowledge, in this life, to know that your stepson had the desire to return to activity. Knowing that in his heart, he had decided to choose God, again - must be of a great comfort.

    What sweet peace it must bring, to know that your eternal family, although separated for time, will be eternal, through sacred covenants.

    As parents of inactive children, many are left not knowing for certain, the hearts and minds of their children. Most often, it is best not to pry. We must rely on the witness of the spirit, as to an understanding of our children's hearts. Most often, it is in this kind of knowing, here and now - that we are blessed with a peaceful patience.

    tDMg

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  15. Nana, this is so very heartfelt and appreciated. I know how difficult it must have been to write. It's fascinating how similar our posts and thought patterns have been recently. It is sad that many LDS parents forget there are no no perfect families, no perfect children, and no one perfect path to salvation. We so often agonize and feel like failures when our children choose different ways of viewing the world. You may wish to read my post published today. I appreciate your post very much.
    Sending love and hugs - MoSop

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  16. MoSap -

    Thank you. If I had written this, say 10 years ago, it would have been extremely difficult. Today however, I come from a very different perspective. Believe it or not, I am very much at peace with everything about the inactivity of my children. In fact, I almost feel grateful for having such an opportunity in parenting. I am very different than I would have been otherwise. I feel blessed to have developed the compassion and insights that are a product, of such lessons of life.

    Would I volunteer, knowingly, for such experiences? Heavens no! However, knowing me, I probably did and just don't remember! LOL

    I am an extremely humbled LDS parent, to say the least. All of my illusions of perfect families ( and I had them) are now gone. All that is left, is a deep gratitude for what is PERFECT - and that, is the atonement of Jesus Christ. In Him, I place all of my faith for a full restoration of my eternal family:-)

    tDMg

    And... you are SO right. Our blog posts today, are stunningly similar. I recommend to my readers, to link over to your post.

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  17. Thank you for another insightful and amazingly honest look at a subject that is close to my heart. It's hard to lose your children and it sometimes feels as if they will not return. I guess that's why we have free agency. Letting our children have their free choices can hurt when they choose things that we know are detrimental. But, it's the only way. We can't force people to believe or to act in the way that we know will bring happiness. It's one of the hardest things to watch someone we love making choices that will bring misery. Hang in there and keep loving your kids regardless of their choices.

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  18. Amy -

    Thank you, for your kind words. It may feel as though we have "lost" our children, when they choose to stray from the Gospel, but I truly have learned, that this is just not so. The Gospel Plan, is wider than any of us can imagine. I am so grateful, to have gained that specific testimony.

    The "Plan" is centered around the use of our individual agency, and IN the atonement. I also feel that more than our being hurt as parents, we are concerned for our children, who will most definitely experience more heartache outside of keeping the commandments. As parents, our job is to protect our children. When they will not allow us to do so, or listen to our counsel -- it pains us to know of the inevitable pain that they will experience, as the consequences of sin.

    I'm with you, that we just need to "hang in there" and love.

    tDMg

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  19. I'm the father of six children. Our oldest is twelve and a half and our youngest two are both two and a half. I imagine the next 10-20 years are sure to be a rollercoaster for us at times... :-) But I'm looking forward to the journey and trying to enjoy it each day along the way.

    The rest of my comment was apparently much too long for blogspot, so I moved it to my own blog.

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  20. Michael -

    Wow! My post evoked that much commentary from you... I'm impressed!

    But on the serious side, the scriptures for me personally, during the time of my oldest daughter's initial inactivity, became my anchor. Each scriptural account that you have listed here - specifically from The Book of Mormon - is a great sermon, on Gospel parenting.

    Any LDS parent, familiar with the scriptures, knows of the great comfort that can be found within these texts.

    In future blog posts, I will share more personal experiences, in relation to these very scriptural accounts that you have noted. As a former Seminary Teacher, I have found a great love for finding eternal principles throughout my scripture study; and have focused a great deal of my time, on how this applies to parenting and family life.

    BTW, Great "comment" -- I've left this very same comment over on your blog. And yes, do expect a RIDE over the next few years.... but a good one! I am now the "Nana" to nine adorable grandchildren -- and I have a perspective about parenting, unique to those, who have taken such a "ride":-)

    tDMg

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  21. My wife and I had a son go inactive in his teens. Now, after many prayers and miracles, he is on a mission, working hard, and blessing the lives of the people in Mexico City! Never give up hope.

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  22. Sis, Skaggs

    I rememeber very vividly those teenage years as jennette and I were good friends. I know I made some very poor choices in life I thought I knew it all, I did everything my parents said not to and it got me nothing more than heart ache and greif. I was at my lowest point in life and I was the one that got myself there and why?? Why do we choose to go inactive?? I think we lose faith, and we choose to not stay close to our savior, we face a tradgedy or trial of our faith that takes us over the edge, or at least for me thats what I did. I started hanging around people who didnt respect the values I was taught as a youth and so it was easy to push those core values aside.

    I stayed inactive for alot of years, meet my husband who was newly divorced and had a child, was inactive himself and there was alot of drama there and then went on to have my first baby in 2003. Life seemed perfect new husband, baby on the way.Until I held that little baby in my arms and it was then I knew something was missing and that I owed it to my daughter and my savior to bring this child up in the truth.It was a long 2 years after that of Slowly finding my way back I didnt want to hear my family's two cents I simply wanted to get back there on my own and in my own time.

    Towm is sep 9th and my husband and I have been married for 10 yrs active in church for 5 years and both hold callings and we couldnt be happier, we are planning to be sealed to each other and our two girls in a few months. I can say that I am glad many families including my own never gave up they loved me and never made me anyless than there daughter. I was greatful they didnt hound me and just were patient as time did bring me back around to full activity :) I know Jenette and I took the long road but we are there and its great to see her happy and in a great marriage and family life. Love Ryan be there encourage him but never push, he will come around. Pray, and fast for him, he knows he has a family that loves him and wishes he was active he knows what you want for him he just has to find that way back on his own time.

    Please tell jenette hello for me she has a beautiful family :) I will keep your ryan in my thoughts and prayers.
    Kelly Sims- Max
    www.maxfamily4.blogspot.com

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  23. I'm not sure how I came across this blog, but I'm glad I did. This has been a very tender and heartwrenching topic for me this year. I'm a mom of 5 and we have tried to teach the gospel in our home always. I've talked with each of our kids and they feel that they were taught well.
    Our 5 kids have each given us cause to grieve.
    This past summer has been particularly heartwrenching for me as I've watched my two youngest struggle. The pain and guilt that I have gone through has been so very hard.
    I'm not caught up in worrying about what others think, but I lay awake most nights wondering what I did wrong. My poor husband is worn out from my tears.

    The question I keep asking is why didn't God hear my prayers? Don't the prayers of a mother hold special sway with the angels of heaven? I've prayed so hard all of my life for my children, it's so hard to watch them make decisions that are horrible. I know that there are so many others that go through this, but there have been so many times I've felt alone.

    I've enjoyed reading the comments that others have posted. I do have hope that my kids will come around, I am holding onto the quote from Orson F. Whitney and the sealing power of the priesthood.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  24. Dallas Meow -

    Thank you for that beautiful reminder...

    tDMg

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  25. what is a wayward child

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  26. Anonymous -

    In the context of this post, to be "wayward" is to turn away from that which you have been taught. When children reject, for a time, the righteous teachings of their parents, they have in essence, gone "wayward". Or, to the ways of the "world". This can be very heartbreaking for parents who desperately desire their children to follow the ways of God.

    tDMg

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  27. My younger brother growing up rebelled (about going to church) at a young age. By the time he was 12 my parents stopped fighting with him about it. He didn't want to get the priesthood and didn't want to pass the sacrament. While my parents were heartbroken... they stopped forcing him to goto church. We were all relieved- Sunday mornings were actually more peaceful and my parents took turns staying home with him. (They were worried what he might do with knowingly 3 hours alone in the house... and with good suspicion- he was using drugs, smoking and alcohol.)

    I remember hearing the whispers and feeling the awkwardness as members thought- my parents should continue to FORCE him into church activities. But honestly, our home life was MUCH happier. Our relationships and bonds of love and friendship flourished as siblings. Him going to church- was a non-issue. No more fights, yelling, manipulating with consequences...
    No- he didn't go to seminary, no he is not an eagle scout, no he did not serve a mission.... he had a terrible rocky road with drugs, addiction, in and out of rehab, teenage pregnancy- who he ended giving up parental rights to so his daughter could have a FULL time dad with her mother..(all the heartaches you hope to spare your children.) He had to learn those lessons first hand... but NOW. Now he is a 32 year old man, married in the temple to a wife with 4 beautiful children all born in the covenant!
    Truly a Miracle!
    I see parents FORCE their kids in "activity" and then see the children inactive as adults...

    As a mother of four boys- we are on the threshold of those teenage years... (My oldest is 13.) I look to my parents as a strong example of how to raise teens. They always offered/encouraged the good...tried to steer us in the right direction but ultimately let us choose. (and let us reap the natural consequence.) Good or bad.
    Some of us learned quickly that the gospel was truly the way to happiness.. while it took my younger brother a little longer. (and that is okay)

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  28. Anonymous --

    Thank you for taking the time to share your family's story. It is beautiful. You're parents truly understand and respect the agency of their children -- and that is one of life's greatest lessons for any parent:)

    tDMg

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  29. I hope you are still there. It looks like about a year since anyone posted on this. My heart has been absolutely breaking, actually for about 7 years now. My wonderful, stubborn daughter has made one bad choice after another. Thankfully the drugs, drinking etc. are over, but now I am on to my biggest challenge yet, her immorality. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to feel. She lives in my home and every little thing hurts so much I can hardly stand it. I know she has a testimony, but she has lost her way and I think she feels less and less good about herself all the time. Somehow I have to get myself under control and stop crying. I feel like I have let my Heavenly Father down. I feel like my daughter has let me down. I just need to find some peace. Any help out there?

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  30. Thank you so much Anonymous for your comments.

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  31. Peggy, I don't have any words of advice, except never give up on her. As I stated in the comment I posted many months ago, it took me 20 years to come back. My heart breaks for you. As a parent, watching your children use their agency is often heartbreaking. How our Heavenly Parents must ache for all of us and how we use our agency. You and your daughter will be in my prayers.

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  32. Thank you Laurie...Thanks for your comments and your prayers. :o)

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  33. I appreciate the time that you took to share your story. My story is as follows. I got rebaptized a member back in 2010 after leaving the church at age 18, joining my now exhusbands church and raising our three kids in a small "Christian" church for 14 years. After 3 years of being divorced, I was rebaptized back into the church. I now struggle with my three kids and my ex husband, who is very anti-mormon. I am engaged to marry my best friend in the SLC Temple in June of this year. My fiance is very supportive of me and is willing to take on the kids despite their negative comments and accusations about the church. My kids are 15, 11, and 7 and have learned most of what they say from their dad and their pastor, and of course the websites. The thing that is keeping me going every day, and your post has encouraged me. I know what I need to do for Jay(my fiance) and myself to prepare our way through the eternities together. I am confident also that I am opening the doors for my children, even my grandkids, someday when and prayerfully hopefully that they will see the blessings. For the most part, my kids support me, but if we come across a FHE lesson that goes against what they have been taught....it becomes hard. I love my kids and I am so thankful that they have such a wonderful knowledge of their Savior, but I ache inside because I want them to have more! I also desire them to be with me throughout the eternities. I do have a sister who has left the church and has never been able to attend any of our temple weddings, but she is supportive and we have been able to continue wonderful communication. Again I appreciate the insights, I will definately be tagging this website, I hope it is still up and running!

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    1. Thank you for sharing a bit about your own story. It sounds like you have some very unique challenges. I am impressed with your faith and desire to move forward to build your eternal family. I'm so happy for you! I know how easy it can be to become discouraged when so much of what you have to deal with is completely out of your control. However, it's good to keep in mind Who is and continue to trust His great plan to bring all of His children home. Just know, that you are on the right team and all things will work together for your sweet family. : )

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  34. I have a son who was raised in the church and around the age of 15-16, he started to get into trouble with pot and was expelled from school. This was only the beginning of a long journey with him. We moved from our home in CA to AZ for my husbands job and thought this would help him get away from the influences he had and allow him to meet good LDS friends. It started out great, the first week he was invited to homecoming and had so much attention..great kids at our house, I thought we had turned the corner. But it slowly changed, and I could tell from the friends that he was back to his old life. I was crushed once again, my hope for a new start had failed. We continued to work with him and after attending EFY, he came home a new person and said he wanted to change, and this time he said he meant it. He started out great, bore his testimony at fast sunday, and was committed to being home with the family more. That soon changed again, back to the same friends. However, still attending church and missionary prep classes. We did not know what to do, he was obviously struggling and conflicted. After many arguments and tears, he told us that his dream of going on a mission was over...and he revealed some things in his past that had taken place that we did not know. He sobbed, he said he wants to go so bad but hates himself for what he has done and doesn't think he will ever be worthy. When I spoke to his bishop..he did say that because of his transgressions, he most likely will not be able to serve a mission. I think I sobbed the entire day and night, praying, searching for answers. I feel numb. Completely lost. Here my son wants to serve the lord and cant now, at least not the way that all his LDS friends are serving. I have been praying, searching for answers. A mission is what I feel he needs to get his life off on the right track, and become the man he wants to be. He would emerge himself in the gospel, just like he did at EFY for one week. He didn't want to leave EFY, he cried knowing he would come back and face the temptations in his life. I would love to know if anyone has faced this before. I know my son has a testimony, he defends the church and attends every single sunday. However, he is not making good choices and therefore puts himself in the wrong crowd. I am searching for answers, comfort, something...if anyone can help.

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    1. Hi Kristen, I'm so sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I've been out of the country for the last three weeks. I want you to know, that I feel your pain and disappointment, completely. I've experienced that devastating place myself - it hurts.

      It hurts to see our children suffer the consequences of their poor choices, and feel helpless to help them. I've heard it said, a few times, that we can repent of our sins, but that doesn't mean we are protected from the consequences. That's a hard lesson to learn for anyone. I think the best thing to do, is to trust that God is in control, that our children are His children, and above all, He loves them in ways that we can't comprehend and that His plan allows for these experiences, in order to ultimately exalt us.

      The agency of our children and how they choose to use it, is a difficult lesson for many parents to learn. I have come to respect the agency of my children, greatly. It is theirs, given to them by a loving Heavenly Father. He understand that our use of it and how we experience those choices, is the great catalyst toward choosing God and receiving our exaltation. Satan completely opposed its use, in order to thwart our eternal progress.

      As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children correct principles and to know Jesus Christ and the power of the Atonement. And then, we must allow our children to make their own choices - good and bad - and have the experiences that mortality affords. Just remember, this is not about you and what kind of parent you've been - this is everything about them. Try to find peace in allowing your son to experience the consequences of his choices and be candid, but not critical, in bluntly testifying that "wickedness never was happiness" and encourage him to make better decision in order to find this out for himself. He will. Trust that, and turn to God on his behalf. Prayer is powerful in sustaining parents and teaching them to become like Christ themselves. Parenting is the school of the Gods. Faith in Jesus Christ, and God's plan, is at the heart of your ability to understand and accept where your son is right now.

      Prayers for you and your family. I sincerely know how difficult the road you are on can be. Things do change and he will move on as he matures.

      Best,
      Kathryn

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  35. I sit here tonight knowing my 18-year-old son is probably at a strip club. He might or might not come home tonight. Do we continue to allow him to leave, come home whenever he wants. He's been to Marine Boot Camp. Leaves again for the Marines in a couple days. If we fight with him, he won't be back, but do we allow him to come and go without a word. He smokes cigars in our car.

    In the ten days he has been home, he has yet to sleep in his own bed. He has spent the night here a couple times, but he brought friends and they played computer games until two or three in the morning and then fell asleep on the couches. These are games I would never have allowed in my home.

    Other than playing games, he just doesn't come home. I don't even want to picture where he is. He has never sat down to a meal with us.

    I've got a son two years old who isn't any better. I cried for him. Lost nearly 20 pounds. I had higher hopes for this boy. and he seems worse. And all I want to do is cry.

    One of my problems is I can't seem to laugh and have joy for the rest of my children.

    How do you? Sometimes I feel if I stop crying and be happy, then the Lord won't take me seriously when I pray that I want something to change.

    My patriarchal blessing says if I am obedient my children will follow my example and we would have joy in our "earthly" home. There is no joy here. I can't laugh with my other children. These two boys are not being obedient. But I have tried. Tried so hard. I was a letter of the law person and now I feel God has lied to me.

    My emotions and my faith is shot.

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