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A Wrap Up to the “Saddest Letter”

Several days ago I called the young lady who sent me the letter. We had a great talk and I was encouraged by her spirit. We talked for 40 minutes. (She also commented today on my last response.) One of the most surprising aspects of her letter, to me, has been the tendency of a small percentage of readers to jump to unreasonable conclusions—blaming church, pastors, or personal standards of living. The vast majority of readers understood the heart of the letter—family and spiritual disconnect.

As a wrap up, I wanted readers of the letter to know a few things for certain:

1. The young lady who wrote the letter was not blaming parents, church, or a lifestyle becoming of the Gospel. She personally told me she’s thankful for her church, her parents, her spiritual foundation, and even most of the personal standards that she was taught. In the letter, she was pointing out what was missing from the mix of her upbringing—not disparaging what was good and right about it.

2. The heart of her burden was a relational disconnect with her parents and with the Lord. She loves her parents and appreciates the right things they did. She simply saw a major blind spot—one that exists in many families—and is burdened for others coming behind her with the same experiences.

3. And the best part—she is preparing to serve God with her life! I love it! She personally told me she wants to teach in a Christian school. Regardless of what was wrong about her upbringing, there must have been a lot right for her to be in this present place spiritually! Not only is she NOT angry, vengeful, and spiteful towards biblical Christianity and godly living, she is eager to complete Bible college and get into ministry. This encouraged my heart!

I am proud of this young lady for seeing and sensing what was missing, and for responding with maturity, personal responsibility, and spirituality. She is developing her heart for the Lord and walking with Him, and that will set her on a wonderful path for the rest of her life.

Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts as well!

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5 Comments

  • Thank you brother Schmidt.

  • I am so glad that this woman was bold enough to say what many young people are too scared to say. I applaud her for her honesty and I pray that many ears will listen and DO something about it.

  • I haven’t even taken time to read all of the comments under this series of letters, but it was no accident that I came upon this letter today. I forget what I was even searching for online when I saw this website and recognized the name “Lancaster Baptist Church”. I have ordered books from your bookstore and our church has sent students to this college.
    I have a 20 year old and a 17 year old. I could not ask for better children, and believe God has blessed me way beyond what I ever could have asked for. My kids have been born into and raised in an “Independent Fundamental Baptist Church”. God has made it possible for us to be able to send them to Christian School. Our 20 year old has not felt the Lord leading her into full time Christian service. She has been a diabetic since she was 4 years old and has always wanted to use this situation to help others with the illness. She is currently seeking out a career in nursing and diabetes education for children. She was saved at a young age and truly just wants to live her life pleasing the Lord. We have always encouraged both of our girls to seek out Gods will for their lives and follow that path wherever it may lead them. My other daughter is 17 years old and she is still in a junior in High School. She also has a genuine heart for the things of the Lord. Recently she is being faced with doctrinal questions and searching out Gods Word for answers. She knows what her father and I believe, but I feel it’s important for her to get into the Word and seek out answers on her own. Based on the information she gathers from Gods Word we are always in sync. It is because of recent situations in my 17 year olds life that I am writing this. I can completely relate to the whole question about the “rules” of religion or “rules” of being a christian vs. true heart felt christianity. I believe that often times we, as christians, tend to judge people based on things like how they are dressed, where they go to church, how many services and activities they attend, what version of the Bible they carry, so on and so on …. but we don’t really know the true heart of the person. I have been a Baptist all of my life and I would never want to move on into a different church. I would be thrilled if my girls would stay in the Baptist Church as well. Unfortunately, though, I can see where sometimes we might fall in to the trap of making our faith all about traditions. It scares me that we might lose our children to more liberal type churches because we are all about the so called “rules” and “traditions”. I agree that if there is a “relationship” to go along with the “rules” that makes all the difference, but too often that is not the case. My children are extremely wonderful kids who love God and have a burden for others. We are always complimented, and give God the glory, on the way they have “turned out” so far. Yet, they are in a way, looked down on and maybe not deemed as “perfect” as some of the other kids in the church because they are involved in sports and other activities at school. God always comes first, but not always church activities. They might have to miss Wednesday night service at church, but are there every single Sunday morning and evening unless we are out of town or they are sick. They get chapel every week at school and have active prayer lives and Bible Studies, but since the people at church don’t see this I fear they view my kids as “carnal christians”.
    I can completely and totally relate to the young woman who wrote the letter. It is very difficult as a parent to teach your children the love and grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and that they should seek to serve Him and Him alone (not man) and then see them be judged for not measuring up to the standard of individuals. I have taught them that in every area of life, not just in church, these things will happen. It is important for them to keep their eyes on God and what pleases Him. There is an element of discouragement when a teen sees that they truly love the Lord and want to put Him first in their life, but because they cannot be at every single service or because they wear pants instead of dresses or some of the other “rules” made by the church that they do not measure up, so to speak. I, as a mother, do not want my children to get to the point where they are tired and exhausted from trying to please “man” and just fall away from God. I know that teens are dealing with lots of issues today and this seems very minor, but I agree with this young woman who says that it is all there except for the “heart relationship”. I hope I have been a good example and testimony to my girls. I know I for sure haven’t been perfect and they would know this better than anybody else, but I am doing the best that I can and trusting that God isn’t finished with me yet.
    Thanks for your letter and “encouraging words”.
    This letter is not meant to be a slam to our church or any individual it is just something that has been on my heart and when I read the letter from this girl it sparked my interest. I absolutely love our Pastor and his wife and our church family. I just wish sometimes they knew us a little better.

  • I work with a lot of women from similar backgrounds to the one described in the original letter. I really appreciate this followup post where you write:

    she was pointing out what was missing from the mix of her upbringing—not disparaging what was good and right about it.

    and

    She loves her parents and appreciates the right things they did. She simply saw a major blind spot—one that exists in many families—and is burdened for others coming behind her with the same experiences.

    I appreciate that you “get this” and understand the heart of the woman who wrote to you. I’ve written a book addressing these issues and have received much of the criticism you’ve illustrated here ~ suggesting that by writing such a book I’m unthankful, unloving towards my parents, rising up against them as it is said per “the last days”, or dishonoring them by addressing the issues that drive many women to leave God behind, to self-injure and contemplate suicide and other destructive behaviors, and who struggle with a whole host of emotional and spiritual issues.

    May God use you and this young woman mightily for His kingdom!
    God bless,
    Hillary McFarland
    Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy

  • Last night our adopted 30 year old sat me down and told me how bitter he is over our ministry decisions and neglect of him. He walked away from the Lord when he was in his late teens, after deep bouts of depression which included cutting himself.
    He says our focus has always been “others” and not our kids, and one other child has also told me this.
    He is bitter and resentful about having to give up his room for guests, and our holidays being shared with strangers who lived in our home.
    He feels we didn’t help him adequately when he was in financial trouble ears ago and asked him to pay rent when he moved back in…the list goes on.
    He is visiting us at home because of a recent scooter accident…he’s on disability but still holds his job. He came home for me to take care of him.
    He says with a sneering laugh that it’s not likely he will ever come back to God and he wants our family to stop talking to him about it.
    He says he loves us, but…he hasn’t felt wanted.
    As I considered all of his claims, they were valid, though we tried to be there for all his High School games and events, and to encourage him in his plans…
    I have felt deeply critical of him for not being more careful with his money, not finding and sticking with a job but always complaining about something. When he did find a great job, his circumstances became so dangerous he had to move out of the area.
    Now he is working in the south in a job he thought he would like, but hates because of the stress.
    As a child, his room was always a disaster and he never learned the simple kindnesses of volunteering to help us in our home, though he helps others.
    He says it’s because he feels there is no use in doing anything around our home because we don’t care for him.
    It’s so sad…Today, he’s having surgery because of an accident (he is accident prone). His dad and sister are with him…we’ve always been there for him…in all of his hospital visits, but I do agree that we’ve not done “enough”, and have bent over backwards to do things for others, while coming home and “crashing”.
    Please pray for him…and us. I’m very thankful yet heartbroken that I have been known as such a great Christian worker and in my kids eyes, largely a failure.
    Thanks.


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