What Do You Give a Prodigal for Christmas?

Parenting is not for wimps. Just ask God. He wrote a whole Book about it.

Parenting is the ultimate roller coaster ride with all its highs and lows, twists and turns, moments that take your breath away and moments you just want to throw up.

It is the ride of your life as you co-create, raise, and share life with a piece of your own heart. Whether by birth or adoption, you become a co-creator with God when He ordains you as a parent.

The most common sentiment of new parents is the overwhelming realization of their own heart’s seemingly unlimited capacity to love another human. There is no purer love than the one between parent and child. This is why it is so incredibly painful when our children break our hearts.

Parenting is not for wimps because, honestly, we often feel like more of a failure as a parent than we do ordained moms and dads. Like when our children are three and get their first sunburn because we forgot to reapply. Or when they are six and we aren’t there to catch them when they fall off their bike. Or when they are twelve and we can’t say anything right because they think we are clueless. Or when they are eighteen and we can’t locate them because they turned off their Life 360 in some brazen act of defiant freedom.

When these small or large “failures” occur, our human instinct is to look within and ask ourselves, “Where did we go wrong?” Sometimes it feels like our success as parents looks more like a professional baseball player’s batting average. We swing and miss more often than we make meaningful contact.

However, just as God established boundaries in the Garden of Eden, boundaries born out of love, we are called to set boundaries for our children. God’s garden boundaries provided Adam and Eve with physical, emotional, and spiritual security within a loving relationship with God. Our boundaries as parents are to serve the same purpose.

Yet, just as God’s first children questioned His motives, thus questioning their own identities, and chose to cross the Father’s boundaries, our children will do the same. And it will hurt us, just like it pained God to find His children in hiding wrestling with shame.

The true test of parental love is will we continue to love when our children choose to cross the boundaries. Will we turn our backs and wallow in “what went wrong“, or will we stand watch with open arms waiting for our co-created prodigal to return? When God’s first children chose to cross His boundaries, God continued to love through open arms pointing toward His own cross.

Yes, there are consequences in the garden and beyond, some painful and some merciful, but the love of the Father undergirds mankind’s long and tedious journey to the cross.

Are you struggling with your own parental fails? Perhaps you are pained by some of your child’s poor choices? Maybe it is killing you to even consider your child as a prodigal?

I understand. I am right there with you as a parent. I once was a prodigal as well. Perhaps we have all been prodigals at some point in our lives.

God also understands. He wrote a whole Book about it; sixty-six chapters about reconciling His children to Himself through His Son and the Father’s long-awaited embrace when we return home.

There is no purer love than the one between parent and child because Jesus is the One in Whom this love is made possible.

Want to love your children through poor choices, disappointments, and even rejection? Give them Jesus.

Jesus is the Christmas present Who keeps on giving; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, grace, and mercy to name a few.

Give the prodigal in you and the child you love so dearly Jesus for Christmas. His love makes all things possible.

Published by Amy C. O’Reilly

I am a child of God, follower of Christ, wife, and mother. I also have a passion for speaking, writing and encouraging others in their journey of faith.

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