I don't often ask for a specific prayer request for our son Etienne, but I wonder if you would commit with me and Vincent to praying for him? We have a sense that he is going through a very important transformation during this season. Since August we have been in a lot of deeper, important conversations with him and he has also been working with a professional therapist. It's nothing alarming, but we are conscious of the fact that he has spent his entire life immersed in Parfums de Vie and all that this life God has called us to entails. And it seems that he's ready (turning 15 in January) to go deeper into exploring who he is and what this means as he grows older.
As you know, his life has been far from ordinary, and the beauty of his life is that he understands more about serving, sharing and sacrifice than many ever experience. He has told us that he definitely wants to follow Jesus with his life, and we see that he is so open to learning to know and listen to God. But of course, he's 15 and we also see that he is wrestling with how to handle the temptations and peer pressure he faces at school. He's trying to figure out what kind of young man he wants to become - and he's talking about it. We are thankful that this chord of communion between us remains open.
We know that our decision to welcome other children into our family has been hard for him. He has shared his room since he was 5 years old, and overnight two older children (and then more, but more temporarily) moved into his physical and emotional space - taking the love, attention and time of his parents. Etienne loves Narjes and Laith (and all the other kids in his life) and he doesn't express any resentment or ill feeling towards them, or towards our decision to adopt them into our family, in fact he is truly thankful to have siblings, and when he talks about some of the hard times, especially in his relationship with Laith, he has a wisdom far beyond his years and a capacity to see the pain that Laith is carrying, having been abandoned, neglected and abused. However despite all the positives, we also recognize that this decision, which has been a massive blessing for Narjes and Laith, has not come without a cost to Etienne, and we see that it needs to be processed, expressed, understood, worked out.
So while we have of course done our best to be attentive, wise and loving parents to Etienne throughout his life, helping him to adjust and understand our unconventional lifestyle and choices, we also know that we haven't always got it all right. Vincent and I are praying for wisdom as we parent and disciple Etienne in this teenage season as we all deepen our understanding of who we are, what our family looks like, what God is calling us to and how we manage all of that. How we continue to welcome others and also take care of each other. Etienne truly has a beautiful and gentle heart and we are praying that as we continue to shepherd and guide him in this new season towards maturity and deeper understanding, that all of the unique experiences he has had through our ministry and our family will truly shape him as a young man of vision, compassion and faith.
Will you pray for all of us? God has our family on a unique path and we trust Him as we all continue to grow, heal and become more like Him. May He continue to use all of us for His purposes. By the way, I read this to Etienne before sending it to ask for his permission to share his story and ask for your prayers. He said yes, of course!
Nicole & Vincent