Many of you have read my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, in which praying mother, Chris Adams, shares the story of praying for her prodigal daughter Alycia. While I was writing the last chapter of the book, Alycia reunited with her family and I was able to include an excerpt from Chris’ journal of their reunion. God’s timing was, as always, perfect. I wrote in the final chapter:
Chris Adams shared and wrote about her story in this book when she had no idea if her prodigal daughter was dead or alive. But just today—this very day—as I conclude this final chapter—there’s another chapter in her story of God’s amazing grace. .
Today, Alycia boldly shares her testimony with you, my blog followers. I’m so proud to introduce to you returning prodigal, Alicia Neighbors!
I Ran From My Family and God
I started running away from my family and God when I was in my early teens. I ran because I sought acceptance, approval and an excitement I didn’t believe I had within my home. I ran because I wanted to be my own boss of my destiny and thought I could find my purpose on my own with no help from my earthly family or from a God I couldn’t see or hear.
My answer to any inward or outward conflict was flight.
My parents made the difficult decision to place me in a group home. I thought they just didn’t want me around, and for a while, played the game of the rules that were set up. Then the urge came from nowhere to run again. It wasn’t a suggestion of my mind, but a desire of my heart. Just to prove in this controlled environment that I didn’t need anyone and could once again design my life with no help from anyone else.
I Ran Into an Abusive Relationship
Years later, I found myself in a marriage full of domestic abuse that would not allow me to run. Oh, I tried to run a few times, but he made sure that I regretted it and even threatened my life if I tried it again. Before the marriage, I had a son by another man. After a few beatings from my husband and seeing his anger directed towards my son, I signed away my parental rights to my son’s natural father and took my husband’s suggestion to disappear from everyone.
For eight years, there was no contact with anyone. Often during those times, I had a strong pull to contact my parents, but I wasn’t allowed a phone or alone time away from the house. I was trapped and I began to pray that somehow a way would be made. No easy option presented itself, so I realized I was going to have to make something happen. I emailed my aunt and asked her if restoration was even possible. She encouraged me that my parents loved me deeply and I needed to heal what was broken.
A Praying Mother’s Prayers
In my mother’s prayer journal, she had written:
“After not seeing our daughter Alycia for over 8 years, and hot hearing from her in 3-4 years, I was compelled for the last couple of months to pray that God would just let us know if Alycia was alive. During the last month, Amanda, [her twin sister] unknowing of my prayers, was also searching once again for her on the Internet. She finally came across her name on an email on petfinders.com. It was a response thanking someone for returning her missing dog.
Amanda emailed me the string of emails with this information. That continued to stir my heart and prayers for Alycia. “Sleuth” Amanda, began trying to find the lady who had found the dog, and when she did, she discovered it had taken place a couple of years ago. But as Amanda continued to search, she came across a “last known” address. On Wednesday, November 1, Amanda drove to the address and knocked on the door. No one answered so she left a note saying, “If Alycia lives here, please call and just give us a phone number so we could let her know if someone in our family died.”
I stole my husband’s cell phone while he was sleeping and called my mom. We exchanged some pictures online of her one-year-old granddaughter she had not met and made plans to meet. At this same time, my twin sister had felt the pull to track me down and found the house I had just moved from. We missed each other by about two weeks. My husband was not pleased about my sneaking, but I cracked the door open and even he knew that to prevent me from going wasn’t going to end it. He did send me to the reunion meeting with a broken nose and two black eyes, but I made contact finally.
I Ran Back Into The Welcoming Arms of God and My Parents
The restoration of the prodigal child and parent relationship can take time because of the trust issues formed during flight mode and absences; but it’s not beyond our God’s ability to heal. I would imagine if we sat down with a calendar, every time I felt a “pull” to go home was also the same time that my parents and others were in intense prayer for me.
In my mother’s journal about the experience, she said this
“Alycia knew nothing about my prayers or Amanda’s searching, which is why this had to be the work of the Holy Spirit nudging each of us toward one another.”
Now many years later, my parents and I have a good relationship. My marriage to the abusive man ended through widowhood, and I’m now married to a wonderful man and gained four bonus sons in addition to my three girls. My faith and love in my Heavenly Father has been restored as I allowed Him to finally bless me the way He had always wanted to. I allow His will to dictate my life and no longer feel the need to make my own way. His plan and purpose is so much better.
I have stopped running because everything I ran to—love, acceptance, family, and purpose—had been there all along. It just took my prayers and the prayers of my parents and many others to help me see this.
What do I want you to take away from all this?
1.) Never stop praying or give up hope on your prodigal. It may be weeks, months or years, but your prayers are essential for your prodigal to feel the “pull” home.
2.) If you still have limited contact with your prodigal, don’t let them see your bitterness or anger at their actions. Mimic God’s love and acceptance. You can verbalize you don’t like what they are doing, but you will always love them.
3.) Your prodigal may have found themselves in a situation that does not allow them to come home or make contact. Form large prayer groups to fully cover your prodigal. More prayers, more “pull.”
Thank you Alycia! Her last three points, I also cover in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, along with the promise that God will always give you all a testimony to share.There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter for family and support groups. My husband and I hold a support group for parents and grandparents of prodigals to give them a safe place to unite in praying for their prodigals. If you have a prodigal, please consider forming such a group.
I have support on my website to help you get started. By the way, the principles in this book apply to both daughters and sons.
Never stop praying.—1 Thessalonians 5:17