LETTER FROM A PARENT
I am so tired of the pain. So weary from the attack against my worth, the defensive posture I find myself in as I try to justify my life. For no matter how much I try I will never be pleasing to the enemy of my soul; the one who is trying to destroy my spirit. Worse yet is when he uses the ones you have poured so much of yourself out for to deliver the blows. This is what it feels like to be a parent of a child in this cult.
I think one of the things we loved about being parents was the unconditional love we saw in the eyes of our little babies as they looked to us to supply all their needs. Of course the more independent they became the less they needed us, but who would ever imagine that when they leave us they would leave us in such a cruel way. Many leave quickly without a word, some leave a bit slower. After they leave is when the real devastation begins because it is in the arms of the cult that their hearts become hardened to the loved ones left behind.
What makes such a thing happen? How does someone get to the place where they not only can physically stay away from the people who love and care for them, but emotionally shut down and distance their ability to be loving to the family that raised and nurtured them for so long?
We know for one thing that it is natural for the teen and young twenties to think their parents don't know what is going on. It is a time when they look to their peers for approval anyway. I further think there are two major forces at work in this time of life. First is the arrogance of youth. The mindset that they are invincible and that they see more clearly than the older generation. Also the lack of wisdom to rush into whatever life brings. Everything from stupid sex-for-approval, to drugs, political causes and "spirituality." Second, it is a time of life where we question what went before and we idealistically believe we can make a difference. We see the whole world and want to affect it.
They say pride cometh before the fall. How many times in my life have I seen this play out? I come from a background that led me into many things that I can later look at and see the folly of my youth. It is with this zeal that we rush forth into life as young adults only to look back from the vantage point of age and see how foolish we were. Hopefully we recognize the injuries we caused along the way and make amends.
This brings me to my topic: our pain, and one way to overcome it. This is the real battle that we are in.
Some of you may have had the "privilege" of seeing the "testimony" letter written by your child. It is a practice of the group to have the young convert write down a statement of their life before being in the group. I think the goal of this is to convince them that the life before the group was wasted in sin and not to be returned to. This alone is not a bad thing. The error I see is that in the process of trashing their former lives they include in it an expose of their family. This is the beginning of the deception, the tearing down of the natural family to be replaced with this new false "spiritual" family. They now use the bible to reinforce the idea that their family, particularly parents, are not good enough to be accepted by the group's standards. It then elevates to a level of paranoia because they further misuse the word to convince them that their family will stop at nothing to remove them from the group.
The family now takes on the identity of evil. Those against the group are now called "Fowls." I believe the pun is intended. Foul and fowl both sounding the same and implying unclean. This term is taken from the gospels to depict the devil. (Matt. 13:4, Mk. 4:4, Lk. 8:5 and Matthew's commentary.) In this parable, the Lord used the seed as his word and he talked about the different situations that stifle the growth of this seed. The fowls were the birds of the air that stole the seed on the ground. In reference to the group, the parents are seen to be these fowls, agents of the devil trying to pluck the truth away from our child in our desire to be connected with them.
So, what chance do we have? We are up against an enemy that has made our child believe that we are working for Satan and that relating to us is going to weaken or end their relationship with God and therefore their salvation is in jeopardy. Well, all I can say is, oddly enough, our strength and hope are in the same God they are trying to follow.
The testimony letter is one of the hardest things you will face. It will put you on the defensive and make you feel like you were a failure as a parent. When I first saw the one my child wrote, I literally fell to my knees and sobbed my heart out at the end of my bed. The letter is one aspect of their rejection of you and your way of life. Now let's be clear, I have to say at this time that I do not believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent or family. No perfect sibling, aunt, uncle. No perfect marriage, church. No perfect person or persons. If there were then Romans 3:23 is wrong (All have sinned and fallen short....) and Jesus died for nothing. So, having said this, I acknowledge that we are fallen and hopelessly susceptible to sin. What I will say here is that if there is truth to the things our children have seen, it is understandable. The only way I know to diffuse the situation is to own what is real. If you made mistakes (and who hasn't), own up and apologize. If given the opportunity, take it. I can't say this strongly enough, whether it is the testimony letter or the attitude you encounter in any communication with them, do it, own it. With sincerity make right whatever you can see as having any truth to it. Because, if they believe in a God of forgiveness, this will allow them to forgive you. Carrying their grievances only adds to the burden they are under. The group mindset uses whatever "sin" we've done to build the wall and this act will help take the legs out from under the strength of their arguments against us. And, quite simply, the Lord we ask for help asks it of us. We pray as parents. We say we trust Him. So atone and be remorseful to God and man if you have missed the mark.
O.K. We have done our part. I must caution you here not to expect to see too much fruit from your actions. Remember we are put in the impossible position of trying to please someone who cannot be pleased. I had an experience once and it left me with this truth. You will never find forgiveness in hell. Our children are in a type of hell.
How do we protect ourselves emotionally from this stuff? I think I have a tool for you. I hope it will be like a shield for your broken hearts. It is these four words . . . . "Don't take it personal." Please, pay attention to this. DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL. How in the world can you not take personal such a personal attack against yourself? Hopefully we can get our thinking around this idea. We know there are good and evil forces alive on the earth and without even knowing your world view or spiritual background, I think we can agree on the concept of good and evil. It is evil that has convinced our children that WE are the evil ones. From this perspective they project their beliefs and they have little comprehension of or compassion for the pain they are causing with their opinions.
I believe they have to make you out to be bad because it is in you and me being bad that they can justify what they are doing. What kind of force, what power gets you to the place where you can emotionally unplug from your family? We have to be bad, you and I because what they are doing is so destructive and cruel it can only be excused by making us the enemy. We who know and love our children more than anyone on earth EVER COULD are twisted into an image of someone whose desire is to pluck their life away. They are taught that we are to be avoided because we will weaken their faith. I don't want to weaken their faith; I want to straighten it out. I say it is a false teaching and a false prophet who plucks the life out of our children. They worry about being kidnapped when Roberts has kidnapped them already.
It is my hope that one day our children will humble themselves and own what they have done. It is their hope that we will do the same. If they face this reality and own their side of it, sadly, it will cause them pain. When they realize their responsibility in all this, it will hurt. It will cause them great pain to see how they have willingly contributed to this wake of pain and heartache in the waves they've left behind them. In their zeal and often without council, they have rushed into this lifestyle rebellious to wisdom. Convinced they must "act now!" They act foolishly and the folly begins. One day they will see how they dismissed their families, for the sake of the "Higher call." A higher call that was really a false prophet's ramblings. Rules and restrictions of a sect, not the higher call of the Lord to love.
Love is the one concept that separates the goats and the sheep. (Matt. 25:32-46) It is the one commandment Jesus gave in his teachings above all else. (Mk. 12:33) One day they will face the pain when they realize the self-righteousness they have walked in. The pain of the disrespect they have arrogantly spewed at us just because they have seen our flaws. One day I hope they will learn the lesson from the Old Testament story about Noah's sons. The one where Noah was naked and drunken in his tent. Remember Noah? The only one righteous enough to save in the Ark--now found drunken and naked. (I am sure now there is hope for us.) Ham, his second son found him and rushed to tell. When the other two sons heard they went to great trouble to get an article of clothing and backed into the tent to cover their father. Ham was quick to expose his father's sin and in doing so dishonor Noah. Shem and Japheth are the example to us of honoring a parent. Not only did they cover their father, they backed into the tent so that they would not see the shame of their father's condition themselves and told no one. (Gen. 9:21-24) Love covers a multitude of sin. (I Peter 4:8) One day they will face the pain that they did not love as Jesus called them to do. They self-righteously judged and condemned their families. The pain that they broke the commandment to honor their fathers and mothers. "To honor" in the Greek means to value. (Matt. 13:4)
My hope is one day they will face the pain of their folly. I am not saying it is folly to love and serve the Lord. In many ways their commitment and sacrifice are to be admired. I am saying it is folly to live under such an ungodly set of rules and regulations believing their righteousness comes from their legalism. I challenge us as well to remember that love covers a multitude of sin and may we be able to cover theirs. Please don't take personal the stumbling of our children as they try to walk out their faith. They are in a kind of mental prison that does not allow them to think and reason like a healthy person. The filtering system they have adopted does not allow them to listen to anyone but another member of the group, only one translation of the bible, nothing at all to do with mainstream Christianity, which is found to have no value because of its hypocrisy. (This I think is far too easy a stone to throw.)
This filtering system keeps them from the advice of church leaders, older family members, their parents and councilors. All are seen as unusable because they do not keep the standards of the Robert's group. This measuring stick removes everybody but themselves. It is an inbred, unhealthy, sour, clannish type of truth and for these reasons I am saying; don't take it personal. We have to look past the rhetoric, listen past the words, and see into their hearts.
Their hearts can still be broken. The burden for them is equally hard because, for all their spiritual euphoria, it does not relieve them from the heaviness of the cross that Roberts has fashioned for them. This unnatural and unholy burden of severing ties with us is only easy for him and because of him many tears have been shed on both sides of the aisle. They need to see your tears. Don't hide them
I believe one day they will look upon their humility and recognize that without love it is false...and they will grieve given that for all their spirituality they blew it. I trust the Holy Spirit to convict them and us of error and when this happens restoration will come forth.
May we be like the father in the prodigal's return. Standing at the lane waiting for as long as it took for his son to return home. He longingly watched and rushed forth to welcome his son back. We can only do this if we don't take personal their distrust, their preaching, their condemnation of our lives, and the many small heartaches felt in a glance.
May we have the grace and love we need to cover the multitude of pain and anguish; may we be alive to see the restoration; and may we look to each other for courage and strength, to God for answers, and to our hearts for the faith to trust Him.
"I know God will not give me more than I can handle.
I just wish he would not trust me so much." ---Mother Teresa
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