When we as parents are leading and advising our children, especially through the web of addiction, we must be fully in congruence with God. This is especially challenging because when our children are facing consequence of their wayward ways, we tend to examine ourselves to determine what we may have done to cause it. This tendency often leads us to feel guilt followed by behaviors that only make matters worse. No parent is capable of parenting perfectly. We know that God uses everything for His good so whatever we have done wrong provides an opportunity for our child to see it as wrong, forgive their parent, and let God show them how to overcome through His power.
What matters to God is righteous living and obedience. This includes owning the sins we committed and repenting which is literally changing our ways of living. When we look at our sin and see that alcohol was a part of each of the times we lied, cheated, stole, or sinned in any way, then we must eliminate that temptation in our life. We must flee from it. To think we have the right to choose to drink again is living for self and not for God.
We reap what we sow. If we have sown lies, cheating, stealing, spending and no saving, then we must reap the consequences of that behavior. So many times parents think they “have to help them because they have no money” but that is literally the lesson that God is teaching them. They need to experience the pain of their consequences. Is it hard for parents to do this? Yes! Extremely. But if you don’t, then you are not in congruence with God. You are interfering with God’s way of pruning your child and preventing them from experiencing the blessings of repentance.
Prosperity is a gift from God but Scripture warns us about how quickly we can fall away from God when we think we have the capability that money provides to “handle things” in life. You may be able to give your child a new start after a long road of debauchery but are you taking things into your own hands by doing so? Are you using what God gave you to further His kingdom and His ways, or are you rewarding bad behavior while helping yourself feel better?
God wants us to live with Him as Master of our life. When challenging situations arise in life we must learn to walk through the challenge according to His principles even when it means letting our children experience consequences that are painful. Just because you have the money to help, doesn’t mean that God desires you to do so. Whom will you serve…Him or you?
How do we know a loved one is truly changing? Many times a loved one will be saying all the right things and because we love them we want to trust what they are saying yet to do so without discernment is folly. We need to look for “fruit in keeping with repentance.” The fruit isn’t words, it’s righteous living. It’s when we see humility in our loved one—not episodic humility which can happen soon after acting out—but longstanding humility. We want to see patterned behaviors that truly represent a changed heart, a heart that now belongs to God–not self.
If your loved one has sinned against you, then true repentance is seen in their ownership of restoring trust. If they truly own the fact that the onus is on them to restore trust and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do so, then that reflects a changed heart. However, if they get defensive, impatient or snarky when asked for proof that what they are saying is really true, then they may not have a changed heart yet. When we lie, the person we lied to is a fool if they just believe us after we have apologized. An admittance of our sin is one thing but the fact is the bond of trust is broken. To rebuild the bond, the onus is on the one who broke it. They show a repentant heart when they are patient and humble in the rebuilding process. If they are impatient and demanding trust, then it’s still all about them and their own selfish living.
Are they making amends?
An amend is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” Making amends is about showing a changed way of living and a changed heart. It is when we are humble and determined to live differently so we show it over time. It is action in addition to the words, “I’m sorry” and it includes “What can I do to make things right between us?” When we have hurt someone and broken trust, we can’t think a simple confession and apology is adequate. When you hear things like “I said I was sorry, what else do you want from me?!” it is evidence that the person is more concerned with justifying themselves than they are in making things right. A humble heart is a peaceful heart. It doesn’t mandate others cow tail to our needs and desires. Being in recovery is hard. Facing the consequences of our actions is difficult. But it’s also hard to be on the receiving end of those actions. In recovery we need to be more concerned about making up for how we have shown up in the lives of our loved ones than we are about ourselves. We’ve lived a selfish life long enough. It doesn’t mean graveling for forgiveness but it does mean we learn humility and be willing to go to any length to restore the bond of trust again.