A Note from Kelly King: For those of you who follow our blog, you are aware that Deb Douglas passed into eternity one week ago today. Even so, she had already submitted two additional articles for the month of September. I felt that one way we could honor her was to continue to post what she had written. Continue to pray for her family during this time.
What happens when sin enters a family?
Families disappear. We see them at church every Sunday, at events, in the community, and then we realize we haven’t seen them for weeks. We hear rumors. Rebellious child. Problems. Messiness. What happens when a child becomes a prodigal and the parents out of shame or frustration slip away into becoming prodigals also?
Consider this: Sometimes we think that because we are hurting, we deserve to get to make a bad choice or two. Find love in the wrong place. Choose the easiest remedy. Blot out our pain. Look for healing in the closest, easiest way. Run to the nearest escape.
It’s like this…one family member gets caught in the snares of sin, slipping away out of grasp. The family members reach to grab them and instead of rescuing the falling victim, they are all pulled into the vortex of sin with mayhem.
Families are fragile, precious things. When challenges, bad choices, and sin invade, the family can be shattered.
Maybe I watched too many horror flicks at the Saturday matinees as a child, but I picture sin as this rapidly growing vine that grabs at our ankles, pulling us down, and devouring us. Like kudzu on steroids. Anyone from the southern states understands kudzu. It is a wicked vine that destroys everything in its path; it is capable of covering a parked car in a matter of days and is almost impossible to kill. It takes heavy equipment digging down to the root to remove it. That’s how sin invades and destroys.
Guilt and shame invade the family of a prodigal. Invading into places they do not belong but where they take reign. It becomes easier to avoid others than to face the feelings of shame. And slowly the guilt and the shame isolate the family from any sources of encouragement or hope.
There is hope for prodigal families. We can be a part of that hope process.
- Be present.
- Be understanding.
- Be honest. Share your stories respectfully.
- Be prayerful.
- Be helpful. Meet practical needs.
- Be hopeful.
- Be biblically encouraging.
Not all families with a prodigal become prodigal families. Some resist the grabbing tentacles of sin and instead find strength and peace in their relationship with Christ and their faith community. What makes the difference?
- Healthy boundaries. Recognizing the prodigal and no one else is responsible for the choices made.
- Praying for the prodigal and themselves.
- Vulnerably sharing the family’s story and messiness.
- Seeking help through counseling and encouragement from others who have experienced the messiness of family life builds up the family in the midst of messiness.
- Staying rooted in Scripture and having an attitude that nothing is going to sway the family away from biblical truth.
An environment of encouragement rather than judgment makes it easier for families facing the challenges of a prodigal to find support. Do not be afraid to step out in love to help families in crisis! Pray for families to be strong in the messiness of life.
“But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 6:17-23
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb served in women’s ministry. She spent her time ministering to women in the sex trade and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb was a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry, and she earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb was “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.