It has been a humbling process and yet I now feel a sense of great peace. I am more like the tree that bends, though straight and tall. The process of leaving and returning, of judging and then releasing judgments, of arrogance and then humility has been a healing journey. I share this story so that others might feel encouraged to turn around and begin that journey home. I share this story so that parents who worry about their adult children straying from the Church will have some understanding and hope. I was a young woman, a Catholic Worker, caring for the homeless.
I was a young adult of the s. And so I stopped attending Mass, believing I was better off pursuing a personal relationship with God according to the path of mystics such as Hildegard of Bingen and St. I spent those many years aware that there was a vacuum in my life.
That place that had been filled up by the Catholic sacraments and my religious discipline— the cycle of birth, death and resurrection—was now empty. I meditated and visualized. I visited a great number of Protestant churches. I became a Buddhist. I went to Sufi dances. I went to New Age churches.
Then I became a mom and ironically came to see that motherhood is indeed a high and noble calling. I started a magazine called Parenting with Spirit, to offer encouragement and ideas for the many parents I met who had dropped out of any church participation and were raising children in a spiritual vacuum. The work filled my days and dreams.
Yet still the empty place remained and beckoned. Although I was not attending a Catholic church, I had a deep feeling that my children needed to learn how to pray and be involved in rituals.
I wanted them to be able to transcend the world of money, competition and outer success, in order to find the deeper purpose and meaning of their lives. In my work with the magazine I wanted to explore options for honoring the spiritual life of children and adults. As I developed the magazine, parents began to write to me. He believes they can decide about God—if God is even real—when they are teenagers.
Hope for the parent of a prodigal
Such letters were troubling. There were many things I wanted to pass on about the importance of having a spiritual life. But I was unsure about the kind of advice to offer. I was in despair. My husband and I agreed about very little in our relationship. It became increasingly tense and we ended up divorced. I was emotionally frazzled. I believed that private prayer, nature walks, meditation and the study of spiritual readings would help me find answers.
But still, no answers were forthcoming.
Then God did speak to me clearly through a dream. I met and married a wonderful, loving man as a result of that dream. Jurgen encouraged my spiritual questioning and longing. For the first time in my life I felt someone understood my journey. But then my ex-husband began a process of litigation—an endlessly punishing process that has little to do with justice or fairness or the needs of children.
Then, during the winter of , my husband, Jurgen, became ill. My children were still too little for me to go to work full-time, so we fell closer and closer toward financial devastation. The legal bills were piling up. I began to listen and write down the horror stories of others faced with divorce-related conflicts.
During all of these days and years, I had gone far away from my spiritual origins, but the essence of faith remained.
The Prodigal | Sovereign Grace Music
I had been raised Catholic by a devout mother who daily prayed for me and my soul. I had spent my teen years drawing pictures of Christ on the cross. I had memories of when I would rally our family of eight to go to weekly Confession during Lent when I was only nine years old. I had been raised in Catholic schools and once dreamed of being the first female pope. That was our mission at the time: to help them. Yet I also knew that the most important thing parents could provide for a child is a model of committed faith.
It felt as if the whole Church knew we were there. I felt flushed with embarrassment and wonderment. But the tide had turned and I was home! I could feel again—with renewed power—the significance of the Mass. We began the arduous, but cathartic, experience of obtaining annulments of previous marriages.
To take Catholic instruction as an adult is a powerful experience. I had the older son who was obviously angry and went out and did all the crazy things he did. But as he came back, I found that my middle son was actually angry as well, because so much of our energy had gone to our older son. We were always concerned and always praying, based on the kid who was not there, who was out in the world making trouble. My younger son felt that he was stolen from. So he actually became a prodigal in a different way. So we had both kinds of prodigals in our home.
There is hope to draw both kinds of prodigals back. Bringing a prodigal home. A three-time all-American wrestler in college as well as a successful wrestling coach, Putman holds degrees from Boise State University and Boise Bible College. He and his wife, Bobbi, have five grown children, including Jim, and fourteen grandchildren.
They live in Post Falls, Idaho. Being grateful on a daily basis will bring contentment and happiness into our lives. It may even change the world around us. Jo Bender on April 6, Do you have a difficult time understanding the creatures in your home who call themselves teens?
They seem to bring us both joy and pain on a daily basis. Jo Bender on March 29, Too often we allow busyness to define our stories rather than drawing close to God during the busy times.
Jo Bender on February 9, In sharing even the unspeakable and unattractive parts of our journey, we can actually find freedom. Jo Bender on January 26,