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Thursday, June 20, 2013

What to do when your loved one leaves the Church

by Nancy Ward

File:Gustave Courbet - Le Désespéré (1843).jpg
The Desperate Man by Gustave Courbet (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

When a child or sibling, spouse or parent strays from the faith that once was the mainstay of his or her life, what can you do? You worry yourself into tears, you scold and then ignore them, complain and despair. You are desperate to understand how to handle this tragedy.

You don’t have to be a psychic with extrasensory perception (ESP) to know what to do. But you do need an ESP prayer strategy. Of course, you are praying for them—and worrying about them. Your anxiety keeps you awake at night and drives them away.  ESP prayer strategy will help them and help you.

E= Example.  Instead of working on how to change them, show them the example of true faith. Seek peace in your own life and joy in God’s gifts. Focus on your values.  Live a virtuous life even though the strays rebel against all of it. Quietly persevere in your example of a faith-filled life whether they notice or not.

S = Surrender. Gather up all your concerns about the strays and surrender them to Lord. He loves them even more than you do. He created them and knows everything about them, things you’ll never know and things they don’t yet realize. He has the power to work more directly with the strays when you let go of them. The Good Shepherd seeks out the lost lambs and carries them on His shoulders back to the fold. Get out of His way and let Him tend to them in much better ways than you can. His will for them far surpasses your ultimate desires.

P = Patience. Your anxiety dissipates when you ask for the grace of patience. Be still and trust God. Ask Him to give you more patience to deal with the child or sibling or spouse or parent you worry about. Be patient with yourself. Lower your expectations of what you can do and raise them high on what God can do. Be patient with God’s timing. With expectant faith, wait on the Lord in peace.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Nancy originally posted this at her blog,  JOY Alive in our hearts.


  1. What an encouraging post, with a clear outline of what to do!

  2. Thanks. This is my first post on Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network and you are the first commenter. I hope to encourage and be encouraged by being a part of this great network.

  3. Thanks Nancy. Great advice! After wringing my hands to pieces years ago, I came to the same conclusion your shared. I'm still waiting, but at least I'm at peace now.

    Welcome to the group!

  4. This is wonderful encouragement. I was once on the stray side before converting so anything is possible with God! Thanks for sharing with us and welcome aboard as well!!!


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