A general conference talk gave me hope for my wandering son’s future.
My husband and I have six children. They all bring us joy, but parenting them has also provided us with trials and learning experiences.
In 2003, our fourth child was fourteen and was struggling with many issues. Although I never learned the cause of these problems, I saw their manifestation in his attitude at home and his behavior in general. He argued often; he quit his extracurricular activities; he refused to read scriptures with the family; he rarely joined in family prayer; and he stopped attending church with us. I couldn’t figure out where we had gone wrong as parents. My heart was broken.
In April 2003, President James E. Faust gave a general conference talk titled “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered.” His counsel offered me hope for the future when he said: “To those brokenhearted parents who have been righteous, diligent, and prayerful in the teaching of their disobedient children, we say to you, the Good Shepherd is watching over them. God knows and understands your deep sorrow. There is hope.”
It had been difficult during those troublesome years to go to church. Not only was I sad (and often in tears) because my son was not learning the gospel and increasing his testimony, but I was also burdened by the worry of what others were saying about him and how they were judging my husband and me. Here again President Faust came to my rescue: “It is very unfair and unkind to judge conscientious and faithful parents because some of their children rebel or stray from the teachings and love of their parents.”
In the middle of that talk, I felt a huge burden being lifted from my shoulders. Not only did someone understand my pain, but an Apostle of God understood and reached out to me in love and kindness. In that moment I realized I could face the future with less fear and dread. I could do my best to encourage my son to come back to church. My Heavenly Father would not only accept my efforts, but he would also love me as I continued to try in the face of uncertainty.
President Faust’s talk moved me from despair to hope. Because of his message, I was able to find peace and comfort and move forward. Although the road was hard for a period of time, today my son brings sunshine and joy to my life in a way I would never have thought possible. How grateful I am for general conference and the inspiration of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Read President James E. Faust’s article “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered.”
Source: April 2003 General Conference
—Phyllis Rosen, Provo, Utah
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Find more insights
See Elder David A. Bednar‘s “Faithful Parents and Wayward Children: Sustaining Hope While Overcoming Misunderstanding” to learn more comforting truths about divine providence and the prophetic promise about posterity.
Read or watch the biblical account of the Savior’s parable of the Prodigal Son.
Check out Marvin K. Gardner’s article “Keeping the Door Open and the Stew Hot: Loving and Helping a Wayward Child” for more ideas on how to help wandering children.
Watch and listen to the Tabernacle Choir sing “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” in general conference.