Last week, I wrote about how I am not a victim of ATI, but a graduate, because it was part of the life training that God had for me. Since then, God has been continuing to teach me about life after ATI. I’d like to share with you what He has been teaching me.
It’s Up to You Now
So, you were raised in a less-than-ideal system. You look back at your childhood with regret and wish that your parents had done things differently. You realize, as I did, that God will use it all for good in your life, but you wonder how to proceed. What’s life supposed to look like?
Not only that, but maybe your parents don’t seem interested in helping you recover. Maybe they won’t even admit that they raised you in a corrupt system. Maybe they’re still singing the praises of Bill Gothard or someone else like him who had a negative influence on you.
And you wish that they would understand what’s really going on in your head. You wish they would understand how deeply you were affected. And yet, you begin to feel that they never really will understand.
The ball is now in your court. Assuming that you are now an adult, out of high school, maybe on your own—you are responsible for cleaning up the mess. You are responsible to find out what God wants you to do, and do it.
If you cannot change unless somebody else corrects their ways, you are doomed. You’ll never reach what God wants you to do. You’ll always have issues that you are unable to correct.
Make no mistake: your background will shape you and influence you. It will give you subconscious thought patterns that you struggle to overcome. Don’t underestimate the impacts.
But: don’t look to other people to take the responsibility to correct those problems. As an adult, you need to square your shoulders and say, “The buck stops here.”
Don’t Fall for the Fatal Flaw
To me, at least, growing up, the message was clear: raise your children properly, and they will turn out right. If the children don’t turn out right, the parents did something wrong.
I still believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement. After all, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” At the same time, I realize that there can be other influences along the way, or the parents may think that they are doing the right thing when they aren’t.
But here’s where the fatal flaw comes in: when the children believe that their behavior is their parents’ responsibility. In other words, believing that, if you turned out wrong, then your parents did the wrong thing; therefore, the solution is for your parents to undo their mistakes and do the right thing so that you can turn out correctly.
If you’re ten years old, you probably have a point. After all, you’re still too young to make wise decisions on your own. But if you’re an adult, sorry. Your future behavior is your responsibility. Yes, you may struggle to overcome challenges. Yes, it might help if your parents would work through things with you. But ultimately, you, as a mature adult, must take ownership of your life and set the course you will take, not wait for your parents to do it for you.
After all, if you have to wait for your parents to correct their ways, you may be waiting for a looooooong time.
You’re Not Alone
Remember, God is waiting to help you. His grace is sufficient to correct every problem that His training system (your background) instilled in you. This isn’t about going it alone.
But unless you realize your need of His grace and take the responsibility to seek His help and guidance, don’t expect to receive it. That’s part of taking responsibility: recognizing that you need help, and asking for it.
When you do go to God, though, He can do what nobody else can do: He can work both internally and externally to transform you by the renewing of your mind, so that you can know what His will is for you.
In past articles on grace, I said that grace is God’s power working within you. In reality, it also works outside of you, creating circumstances to teach you and help you. God’s grace also works in the lives of those around you, changing problems and character issues.
So go to your loving Father and talk to Him about your needs.
A Word to the Parents
Now, maybe you’re not the child, but the parent. Maybe you are responsible for having trained your children in a faulty system. Are you willing to take your own responsibility?
I know, Bill Gothard/Jonathan Lindvall/Michael Pearl/Denny Kenaston/the Ezzos/Doug Phillips/(fill in the blank) told you, or at least implied, that their system would produce Godly children who were next to perfect. It’s difficult to accept that these formulas, which were supposed to have such great results, were flawed and unable to produce the results you were promised. In the face of failure, it’s easy to ignore, minimize, or deny your failure, your children’s problems, or the evidence against people like Bill Gothard.
But ignoring problems will never make them go away. Denying your part in the situation will only drive a deeper wedge between you and your children. They already know that you made mistakes. Refusing to admit your mistakes will only make you look like a dunce in your children’s eyes.
For your adult children, as I have been saying, it’s their responsibility to make necessary changes in their lives. At the same time, when we make mistakes, we should try to do what we can to correct them. And when we know that we have believed error, it’s very important to find out what is truth and help pass it along to those whom we have misled.
You need to take responsibility and acknowledge that you, not the church, school, Bill Gothard–whoever–were ultimately responsible for misleading your children. I assume that no one kidnapped your children and held them hostage so they could indoctrinate them. Therefore, you were the one who enrolled them, took them to conferences, seminars, meetings, school, whatever, and reinforced what they learned. Along the way, they may have learned things that you never would have taught them. No matter. As the parent, the buck stopped with you. You are responsible.
If you can come alongside and offer support, advice, a listening ear, and a heartfelt apology for what you did wrong, it can do wonders. Your children, regardless of what they say, probably care about what you think of them and what they believe. If they know that you, too, recognize the error that you were taught and passed along to them, it will make it easier for them to make changes in their own lives.
As your children sort through what they believe and try to figure out what is true, they may bring up ideas that you find troubling. Their ideas may be totally wrong and inconsistent with the Word of God. Be patient. A knee-jerk reaction will not help. Playing know-it-all and trust-me-I’m-always-right only makes you look foolish when your children know that you have not always been right and you don’t know it all. Make sure that you truly understand what they’re saying and aren’t reacting to an idea that your children would never believe. If you have understood correctly and you know that they are wrong, share with them why they are wrong. Your extra years of experience can be a helpful anchor and balancing viewpoint.
I want to admit that this article points straight back at me as much as it points at you. Quite frankly, I’m writing from my own personal experiences. I struggle to take full responsibility and work on what needs to be worked on.
But God is faithful, and I hope what He has shared with me will help you as it has helped me.