This is Part 2 of the journey of a former agnostic who was raised in a strong Christian home. T.J., now twenty-eight, shares how he shut God out and fell into the party scene. He told me his story for one reason: to offer encouragement and fresh hope to brokenhearted parents. If God can transform him, then He can transform your child, too.
After a period of hard-partying, downtown clubbing, bar-hopping, shameless liquor, girl-chasing, and unrestrained recreational party drugs, losing his girlfriend and who he thought were close friends, T.J.’s story continues:
I realized how I’d destroyed everything wonderful in my life. And so, I cried out to God in my brokenness and agony—and, for the very first time in my life, I heard Him answer. He picked me up out of the rubble of my self-destruction and from that moment on I promised to never lash out against Him again.
How could I keep pushing Him away after everything He revealed to me and the peace He gave me in the aftermath of what I’d done? And what was it specifically that I had done? I tried to create my own definition and meaning, cutting off the only transcendent Anchor who gave real meaning and definition to life itself.
Life on my own terms, the way I wanted to do it—absolutely and unquestionably had NOT worked. Period.
Today, my journey has led me into a world of apologetics, philosophy, and theology. Where I once had a passion only for film and movies, though still present, an entirely new pursuit of truth and how it fits in this world, has taken center stage.
I would like to provide encouragement to any parent whose children are struggling with their faith. No matter how hard we may fight against God—the key to us possibly choosing to come back one day, is parents who remain solidly firm in their love for them.
We need parents who don’t condemn; who love despite the hell we put them through; who remain compassionately patient while remaining firm in their convictions. Parents who never shy away from or water down the truth, and who strongly, adamantly lead by example.
I’m so thankful for my parent’s love and forgiveness. Whatever poison I threw against their faith, they consistently let me know our home would always be a safe shelter of love and compassion.
Was it easy? Of course not.
Today they admit the hardest thing was to humbly accept the fact that my choice in faith had absolutely nothing to do with them.
At times they felt trapped, not knowing what to do. When I asked hard questions, they didn’t have answers. Do I blame them for not knowing? No.
My advice to any parent would be:
- When your children start asking hard questions about God and faith, do everything in your power to answer them as honestly as you can. If you don’t know the answers, do everything you can to find them, because if you don’t, they WILL go somewhere else where they might find dangerous answers, instead.
- With younger children, get them to start thinking WHY they believe in God and the Bible. Encourage them to ask hard questions so they will begin thinking for themselves sooner. It will help them later on. J.P. Moreland, a renowned philosopher and Christian apologist, made the point clear: “We have gotten so good at teaching our younger generation what to believe and what the bible says, but we’ve completely neglected to get children to think why they believe it altogether.”
- Parents, our journey as young adults is our own and not yours. But, there will never be a time when we won’t look to you for hopeful guidance in the right direction. Parents who lovingly lead by example, are patient with our growth as individuals, and are not ashamed to hold on to the one and only, absolute Truth – will always be seen in our eyes as a strong, admirable example.
Never give up on your children, young or old.
Never stop praying, and most important of all, never let go of hope in the incredible power and life-changing grace that Christ gives in salvation.
*Thank you, T.J. You have greatly encouraged me. And I believe many parents will find renewed hope for their children because you were willing to share your story. God bless you as you continue to live out your faith in today’s challenging world.
This Bible verse always renews my hope:
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).”