An interview with Marcy Hayes, author and illustrator of Waiting For Your Prodigal: Daily Thoughts and Prayers…
I am so excited about your book, Waiting For Your Prodigal: Daily Thoughts and Prayers. There is such a need today to encourage and minister to hurting parents of prodigals. It seems as though no one really understands the devastation this causes in Christian families unless they have been through it themselves. What were the circumstances in your life that motivated you to write your book?
Marcy: My daughter’s very public and very humiliating divorce began a string of events very devastating to her, then devastating to everyone around her. (Still feeling effects today.) Part of the devastation for me was four small children on this journey with their mother driven by anger and rebellion. As my daughter made plans to move 600 miles away, my father died.
Six weeks later, she was gone, packed up and gone. It was Good Friday. I wrote in my journal, “There was nothing good about it.”
I had always kept journals where I talked to God, wrote down Scriptures and insights, and recorded prayers. Spirals and spirals of talks with God–I was searching for answers, searching my own soul, and waiting as parents of prodigals do.
I searched the Internet and searched bookstores for help–to hear from someone who had gone through my pain and found relief. I found only five books; only one was helpful. I was convinced that there were thousands of parents in my position, and I was baffled that there were so few books on the subject.
During that time of searching and waiting I picked up several of the spirals to reread the events of her leaving, my hurting, and insights God had given me. As I reread the entries, I was surprised to see the help I had needed was right there. God is so good.
I did not want to waste the words God had given me, did not want to waste the suffering. I wanted to help others, and I knew the books that could encourage a waiting parent were few.
Knowing the suffering you have gone through, and seeing the beauty God has brought out in you, and that you are giving to others should give us all hope, and encourage us as parents to comfort others as we have been comforted. One thing that I really love about your book is that you have a prayer for every day of the month, actually for 32 days. I find it very helpful to read and pray along with you for my prodigal and the other prodigals and families that I am praying for. What inspired you to set your book up this way?
Marcy: The prayers are very personal and many times confessional. I wrestle with God in that secret place. My heart is completely vulnerable, completely honest in the prayers.
Have you ever known that God wanted you to do something, and with sureness and some trembling you did it? This trembling sureness is why the prayers are in the book and included every day. I am sure the healing is in the prayers.
You maybe notice the tone of the writing is serious. There were times in writing this I wanted to be humorous; I am by nature one who finds humor in life. More than once I felt the Lord caution me not to exaggerate, not to be funny, and not to be flippant. Prayer is serious.
I did not notice until the book was almost published that I address the Lord differently, almost every day (e.g.) ”All Knowing Father,” and “Precious Redeemer,” and “Good Shepherd,” and “Father of Great Promises.” God must have a purpose for this, because all the different names surprised me but delighted me too.
Quoting from your acknowledgments you say, “I thank One who told the story of the lost son; then wrote the story in my life.” It is hard to be thankful for hurtful things that happen to us, yet I know that most Christians come out of their tribulations being thankful. How did you get to the place of acceptance and thankfulness?
Marcy: I can’t honestly say I am thankful for the pain itself (the fears, the losses, the rejection, and even the shock of it all), but I am thankful for the way God ministers to us in the midst of our pain. God sent me a friend ten years younger than I am who was also a friend of my daughter. This woman had been a prodigal herself. Her words and prayers and advice were like gold.
God gives us more of Himself in times of pain. Oh, there have been plenty of nights full of tears and wondering why this and why that–but when God gives us extra portions of Himself, there is joy. My minister asked me, knowing all that had happened, how it was that I was so happy.
Finally, I have been thankful for the task of writing this book. If God was going to send me through something difficult, I did not want to waste any part of the experience if it could be used for His glory. And that is my hope–that God will use this book in the lives of people who need His grace and mercy, because we know this is certainly a time of need.
Most people do not understand what parents of prodigals go through unless they have been there themselves. Persecution seems to go hand in hand with a rebellious child. This can make life even more difficult and hurtful for parents who find themselves in this situation. Could you share with us your views on the attitude people have towards those experiencing this tribulation?
Marcy: You are right that most people do not understand what parents go through, because I remember dismissing prodigals as kids that just had a wild streak. I remember a short, red-haired and red-faced man from my childhood who raised a daughter near my age. When asked to pray, he would end his prayers in his Irish accent, “…and Lard, be with our children, wherever they are.” I just thought he had the misfortune of having a daughter with a wild streak.
I rather like the “wild streak” view, because nobody is pointing fingers at the parent of the child gone wild.
When I thought about “other people” and my views on their attitudes, I compiled the following list:
1. The prodigal’s friends who encourage her on a destructive path tell her what she wants to hear. An attitude that by-passes truth and makes a person feel good is reckless. Scripture tells us that the way that “seems” right to a man leads to destruction.
2. The therapist is not always helpful. Psychology does a good job identifying character flaws, but it brings no resolution. What it brings is a lot of blame. Therapists blame parents for just about everything. My view on this attitude is that it fuels the anger of a prodigal and makes her into a victim rather than an overcomer.
3. The people who point fingers at parents and take the attitude that controlling parents drive children away are far from the truth. My attitude on this subject is that there are NO PERFECT PARENTS. There are as many prodigals from parents who were busy and neglectful as there are prodigals from doting parents. I would like to add that God, as our Father, has thousands of prodigals-whole nations. His first two children, Adam and Eve, rebelled.
4. People who will pray with the parent of a prodigal and commit to praying for the prodigal are the most valuable asset in a parent’s life.
5. Parents of prodigals imagine a huge number of people out there with stable families who look at a prodigal situation with scorn. Imagining people who do not understand and who judge us leads many parents to “hide in shame.”
What advice would you offer a parent who is faced with the pain of the prodigal experience?
1. Pray. Pray with others. Seek those who will pray for your child. Pray persistently. Turn every thought of fear into a prayer. Turn every wounding thought into a prayer. Turn Scripture into prayers. And BELIEVE; don’t just worry on your knees.
2. Do not hide in shame. This is a great opportunity to give and receive all that God has for you.
3. When you have the opportunity to show demonstrative love to your prodigal, do it.
Your book is full of encouragement, incite and sincere prayers that I’m sure would comfort anyone who is struggling with a prodigal. Where can your book be purchased?
Marcy: I am convinced that every family at some point has a lost son, daughter, sibling, or spouse. When Christians face rebellion and conflict in their own families, they seek wisdom and help from someone who has walked that road.
Waiting for Your Prodigal: Daily Thoughts and Prayers will give them the help and the hope their hearts need to hear:
· Prayers to pray when they do not know what to say
· Assurance that God is at work all around them
· Knowing the greatest part of the Father’s story
· Ways to heal while waiting
Waiting for Your Prodigal: Daily Thoughts and Prayers is a soft cover book, 88 pages in length If you would like to order one or two, amazon.com or any of the major book sellers have it available. If you want to order more than one or two, you can call the publisher Crossbooks or go to the websitecrossbooks.com.
Marcy Hayes earned a master’s degree in education and English from Northeastern State University. She has taught for thirty years and illustrated three books. Marcy is active in her church through music, Bible study, and prison ministry. She and her husband D. D. live in Oklahoma. They have two children and four grandchildren.
All illustrations belong exclusively to Marcy Hayes.