Prodigals Abound

Sancta Colloquia Episode 206 ft. Judy Douglass

In this episode of Sancta Colloquia, I had a chance to talk with author, Judy Douglass (@judydouglass417) about her recent book, When You Love a Prodigal. Apart from getting to know Judy a bit more on a personal level, we dove into why she wrote her book, which also is/was a personal journey. Judy’s pastoral heart shines through as she articulates her own maternal struggles with staying present and consistent in the life of her son who was self-destructing. There’s only so much we can do as parents to stop such a thing, and boy are we desperate to try to stop it. We’ll employ every tactic in the known parenting universe to try to protect those whom we love with our entire minds, hearts, souls, strength, and bodies from hurting themselves. But sometimes, the best thing to do is to simply walk alongside this one who bent on self-destruction, whispering the entire time: I’m here with you and I love you dearly, you are my child, my beloved. Judy takes her cues from her very personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ: she’s been loved radically in many different ways so why shouldn’t she love in the same way? Through out the discussion we weave and wend through talking about her book and about the parable of the Prodigal son as told in Luke 15; at the end of the show we come to the very needed conclusion that we are all prodigals like both sons in the story are prodigal. In one way or another, none of us has the right to judge another human being, especially according to their actions. As we fight for those we love, we must remember an important lesson: as Judy explains,  “tough love” creates barrier and separation, it pushes away and rejects; the object of this love doesn’t want to come back. She says that it’s better to think of “firm love” rather than “tough love”. “What’s the difference?” you ask. This, again recourse to Judy: you have to let them make their choices, parent like the father of the prodigal, because love draws others. We must remember to have Mercy and compassion. Forgiveness. Remembering her own faults and short-comings and that at the end of the day, we are dust. Judy reminds us from beginning to end of the episode: to send out mercy and grace to others, which we have received from God. At the end of the day, according to Judy, it’s better to make mistakes on the side of Grace. Couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Intrigued? You should be.

Listen here via Screaming Pods (https://www.screamingpods.com/)

A huge THANK YOU to my friend and producer Sean Duregger (@seanCduregger) and Screaming Pods (@ScreamingPods) for hosting Sancta Colloquia (@SanctaColloquia).

A native of Dallas, Texas, Judy Douglass is a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in journalism.  She has been on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1964, serving previously as editor of Collegiate Challenge magazine, manager of the Publications Department, and founding editor of Worldwide Challenge magazine.
Judy currently partners with her husband, Steve, in giving leadership to Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru.  Her primary focus is Women’s Resources.  She is the author of four books and has had articles published in numerous magazines.
A frequent speaker at a variety of groups, including church women’s groups, retreats, missions conferences and student conferences, Judy is known for her “realness” and loves to encourage people to trust God for all He wants to do in them and through them. 

Resources and Help

Books

Allison Bottke—Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children

Katherine James—A Prayer for Orion

Robert J Morgan—Moments for Families with Prodigals

Dena Yohe—You Are Not Alone

Other helps

Connected Families book and seminars–https://connectedfamilies.org/

Hope for Hurting Parents–http://www.hopeforhurtingparents.com/

Prayer for Prodigals—virtual prayer community. To be invited in, write to PrayerforProdigals  @  gmail.com

Suicide Prevention Lifeline–National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

He Loved First

1 John 4:7-12, 19 (Homily)

My* eldest has always had quite the ability to wage verbal warfare and throw impressive tantrums. When my son was about six, he and I had quite an altercation. After receiving a consequence for unacceptable behavior, he stomped up the stairs loudly informing me (and no doubt the neighbors) of the injustice of his punishment. The stomping was followed by a door slamming, a door that then became the target for his toys as he threw them; as he threw each one, he shouted, “You are the meanest mommy ever!” I sat on a stool in the bathroom just listening to him. “I will never ever snuggle with you again! I don’t like you! I wish you weren’t my mommy!”

Typically, according to the parenting practices we’ve adopted for our children, I would wait until he was calm before talking with him again. (For all practical purposes this is an excellent strategy.) In fact, during the conflict I had said, “Go to your room and come back when you are calm and ready to be sweet.” But as I sat in the bathroom, something else came over me: conviction. Laying heavy on my heart as I listened to him hurl insult upon insult at me was that I was asking him to be better before I would once again be with him. Finally conviction had its way with me. I stood up and entered his room as he was in mid rant. I walked to his bed and sat down. “Come here,” I said to him and motioned for him to sit on my lap. He reluctantly complied, and I held him. He didn’t want to be there, but I held him firm. The entire time whispering to him, “I love you…I love you, I love you, I love you…” He relaxed further and further into my embrace and his crying and anger subsided. After a short while he whispered, “I love you, too, mommy.”

Why did I change my mind? What made me retract my earlier request and do the exact opposite? All I can say is that in the midst of my son’s tantrum, I became freshly aware of something: God has never asked me, asked us, to be better before He would dwell with us. In fact, while we were at our worst, God showed up; while we were busy denying God’s very existence by our lack of faith and mistreatment of our neighbor and the world, God made his presence known to us and pursued us. We earned none of God’s coming not the first time and not every time we come to encounter with God in the event of faith; our acts weren’t (and aren’t) together before God comes. In fact, Paul writes in Colossians 2:13 that we were dead in our trespasses—it doesn’t get any more inactive and unprepared than that! And in this deadness we are loved, truly loved. Victor Hugo wrote in his work, Les Misérables, “The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” God, in Jesus, loves us this way – we can neither earn God’s love nor can we drive it away.

Each of us is struggling through this thing called existence and life. I’ve said a number of times this semester, to my kids and to my students: it’s hard being human, why do we make it harder for each other? Day to day we fight to make it to the end unscathed and unharmed. Each and everyone one of us fights to maintain our dignity and our humanity intact from the moment we rise to the moment we rest our heads on our pillows. So I wonder, why choose tearing down when we can build up? Why choose condemning others when we could feel our own conviction? Why choose me and myself when I know you and I are both struggling through? Why not love, love that breeds itself: more love…

I want my children to know they are loved; I want you to know you are loved…today, and tomorrow, even yesterday. And loved not only when you are calm and sweet but when you are at your worst. It’s there, at our worst, where the “I love you” breaks in and becomes real. Jesus Christ, the one who was “in the form of God” and who is the love of God for the entire world, has come to us and says, “Come unto to me.” He came while we were still screaming and throwing our toys, and he says, “Come here.” And reticently crawling into His lap and into his embrace, our ears are filled with His relentless “I love you, I love you, I love you,” And, maybe, after a short while softened and given to his embrace, we whisper in reply the words of worship: “I love you, too.”

 

*The original post “He Loved First” has been edited from its original version which was edited by Jono Linebaugh and appeared on another blog.

 

**

Cinderella in My Shopping Cart

Last week I was leaving a store, Liza was happily sitting in the shopping cart as I pushed it through the exit. Minding my own business, then, “Excuse me, Ma’am,” came a gentleman’s voice to my left. As the sliding doors parted, I stopped and looked at him. “I see you have a princess there,” and he motioned with his eyes toward Liza.

I gave a quick smile to him, “Yes..I do,” I barely choked out without revealing my disdain for the princess craze.

He was a Redbox employee. Older. From what I could deduce from the situation, he was switching out the older Redbox movies for the more current ones. He was holding some small, perfectly square movie posters in his left hand. His right hand was extending one to me, “This is for your little princess.” I looked at the poster as it traveled from his space into mine, and as I took possession of it. Cinderella.

“Oh…” I worked really hard to muster up the right response and reaction: gratitude. “Uh…thaaaaaaanks,” was all I could muster as I stared at the poster depicting this damsel in distress. All I could think was how much I hate Disney princess movies. I hate the message these movies convey to our daughters: women are weak, they need to be saved, specifically by a man. My husband and I have done well keeping all said princess paraphernalia out of our house–even to the point of being considered extreme by friends and family. We’re feminists–Daniel and I, he more than me in many regards! When Jack accidentally uttered, “Quinn’s crying like a little girl!” at the dinner table one night, he all but cried uncle under our 10 minute tag-team diatribe about why that phrase is offensive. And here I was, trying to exit the store, holding in my hands a square piece of really nice poster-board containing within it’s four edges everything I disdain about how our society treats girls. I wanted to hand the poster back to him. I wanted to tell him exactly why I wasn’t going to take this poster with me. Let him know that this poster violates many of my inner most gender principles.

But then I looked back at him.

As I held this thing I couldn’t stand, I looked at him. He smiled at me. He was so happy to give this to my daughter. There was this child-like joy in giving a free gift to a child. What girl wouldn’t want this Cinderella movie poster? He was truly doing a nice thing, a giving thing, a gracious thing. A very gracious gift. My heart melted. Principles or not, it was more important at that moment to love him, my neighbor, than my personal dogma and my urge to tell him what’s what.

I smiled at him; returning his genuine smile of joy with my genuine smile of gratitude. “Thank you,” I said again, this time meaning it. Liza grabbed at the poster, proclaiming her possession of it, Mine! “We love it. It’s so generous of you to give this to us.”

He smiled back and nodded. “You two have a great day!” He persisted in his joyous smile and waved us good-bye as we exited the store.

Often when we talk about loving our neighbors as ourselves we tend to speak in terms of works done for them–I’m sure you’ve heard the oft and maybe over quoted saying, “God doesn’t need your works but your neighbor does.” I hold to this philosophy. But another aspect of loving your neighbor as yourself can also manifest when you see them and enter into their moment, whether it be happy, sad, anger, joy, etc. Sometimes, putting yourself and your personal principles and dogmas aside to make room for this other person is very much loving your neighbor as yourself. Sometimes, putting yourself and your desire to correct and set straight aside is very much loving your neighbor as yourself. Seeing that other person as the human being they are, bearing the same image you do, needing the same saviour you do, is very much loving your neighbor as yourself. When we see our neighbors in such cruciform light, we will find ourselves–by the beautiful and unifying power of the Holy Spirit–acting with more grace towards them even when all we want to do is bring the law.

Liza proudly held that Cinderella poster in the shopping cart all the way to the car and then held it in her car-seat it all the way home. We still have our very special gift.

Book Recommendation: Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s “God Made All of Me”

LaurenRELarkin.com

I might be completely addicted to these two people.

And I’m not afraid to admit it.

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written some of my favorite books: Rid of My Disgrace and Is It My Fault?  I’ve reviewed both of those books on http://www.mbird.com and posted those reviews on amazon. I can’t speak highly enough about these books and their authors. I believe that both of these books should be on every book shelf.

Oh, and this book, too, for children:

“God Made All of Me”

It’s new. Like, just-released-today new. This book offers an accessible discussion for children about how special our bodies are because God has made every part, and that because they are special no one has the right to touch any part of you without your consent.  This book is geared to empower children with the language to say, “No!”, and to call, “Help!” This…

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Book Recommendation: Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s “God Made All of Me”

I might be completely addicted to these two people.

And I’m not afraid to admit it.

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written some of my favorite books: Rid of My Disgrace and Is It My Fault?  I’ve reviewed both of those books on http://www.mbird.com and posted those reviews on amazon. I can’t speak highly enough about these books and their authors. I believe that both of these books should be on every book shelf.

Oh, and this book, too, for children:

“God Made All of Me”

It’s new. Like, just-released-today new. This book offers an accessible discussion for children about how special our bodies are because God has made every part, and that because they are special no one has the right to touch any part of you without your consent.  This book is geared to empower children with the language to say, “No!”, and to call, “Help!” This book is also geared to  empower parents and adults with the language to initiate this rather heavy conversation with the children we love.

I’ve had the pleasure (and honor) to read this and I can tell you–with all certainty–that this book is a must have for children…if you have children, work with children, know children, have ever seen a child, or heard of the idea of children, you should have this book, and maybe 5 back-up copies to hand out.

You can check out the book here on Amazon.

Go.

What are you waiting for?

There’s no time to lose.