“Abandoned Faith” by McFarland and Jimenez: A Book Review

Several years ago, as I began writing my book, Pouring In, I talked to a mentor friend of mine who had three adult children. Deb was/is older and wiser and we have known each other since I was in high school. I wanted her thoughts on the idea of passing on faith to our kids. Deb is a godly woman whom I greatly admire and I fully expected her to say her kids are passionately following the Lord, or at least still going to church.

As awesome as Deb is, as much as she loves God, and even though I know she has modeled Christ in her home, the directions her kids were taking caught her off guard. She wrote of her dismay at her kids wanderings in an email to me. I didn’t know what to think. She loved the Lord like no one I had ever known. She probably did almost everything right. How could they stray?

In a recent study, LifeWay Research, and Fuller Youth Institute estimated that over half of high school graduates will leave the church and become disengaged in their faith. (page xvi)

As a result of much research, I am painfully aware that a majority of kids raised in the church leave the faith when they leave their home. With a daughter graduating this year, this reality scares the begeebees out of me!

Abandoned Faith is an excellent resource for parents whose millennial has walked away from theABANDONED-FAITH-BUY-NOW-1 faith and for those who are currently launching. This book offers parents encouragement and hope that they can still make a difference in the lives of their grown children. The voice of a parent always matters.

As I must entertain the possibility that either one of my daughters could walk away from their faith, I am starting to face the regret McFarland and Jimenez talk about in the book.

Living with a seventeen year old is difficult. I find myself in turmoil as the familiarity of life as I once knew it fades away. I grieve the fact that our family unit will never be the same.

There is a sorrow that comes as kids become young men and women. Sorrow because you miss those little people that adored you, and sorrow for the sinful, imperfect human beings they have become.

It’s too easy to overlook the pain of parents when all the attention is on the problems of their children. Yet, if we are going to win millennials back to Christ, we first need to win parents back to hope and healing. (page 9)

I remember when I was eighteen to twenty-something. I was young and stupid. Most eighteen to twenty-somethings are. We all know that wisdom comes with age and experience. It is what it is.

My eighteen year old daughter is beautiful, smart, kind, and loving. In the words of Aibileen from The Help, “she (you) is smart, she (you) is kind, and (you) is important!” She always did well in school and loved God. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

At the same time, I worry. I see the flaws in her character—flaws we all have. I see her trying to get away with things. I see her being uninterested in her faith. And I grieve the better person she would have been if I had been a better parent.

You can’t help but think, What went wrong? Even if the answer is, nothing. Nothing other than your kids had an imperfect parent, and they happen to be human. As a wise person once said, even Adam and Eve rebelled, and they did have the perfect parent!

The fact is, there is not one single parent alive in this world free of regret. We all have regrets and know other godly parents who do as well. (page 11)

As a parent, it is impossible to look back and believe you did everything perfectly—because none of us have. Hindsight is 20/20.

What do I regret? Here are some things, to name a few.

  • I regret not having a consistent prayer time as a model for my kids.
  • I regret that I didn’t start reading Scripture with them when they were little.
  • I regret not making my kids do band, choir, or a sport—they struggle to have a consistent friend group.
  • I regret not being more consistent with our discipline.
  • I regret not controlling their screen time/social media time better
  • I regret that we brought our baggage into our parenting

I sometimes wonder how much better of a parent I could have been if I had not brought myself into the mix.

Holding on to regrets prevents you from experiencing true freedom in Christ…Being tossed around by waves of regret is actually where Satan, the great Adversary, wants you to be. He doesn’t want you to let your regrets go. (page 13)

Satan wants our regrets to eat us alive. Abandoned Faith encourages parents to look at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to a better relationship with their child. We must stop feeling responsible for our young adult children. Did we make mistakes in parenting—yes. However, we probably did a better job than we realize despite the wanderings of our kids.

At some point, parents need to let go of the guilt from mistakes their young adult children make. At some point, they are no longer responsible.

Let there be no more regrets—only anticipation of the coming blessings. No more doubts—only hope in knowing that God has placed you in your millennial’s life for a divine purpose. God has uniquely equipped you to minister to your children. (page 19)

How are my girls going to survive my parenting? By the grace, immense love, and goodness of our God. When my parenting job is finally done, and it soon will be, I must put my kids in God’s hands—far greater hands than mine.