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The Pain of a Prodigal

If you met my daughter today on the street or in a mall of the large city where she lives, you would see a dark-haired, five-foot-ten, attractive, 25-year-old with an open spirit and a ready self-confidence. She lives independently, serves in her church, and mentors inner-city girls in her spare time

Nothing would tell you that when she was their age, starting in the middle grades and running straight through high school, she was furious at the world. Somewhere around sixth grade, she decided to buck the norms: She would dress in a "punk" style (this was the early '80s), argue with her parents nonstop, raise shocking questions in Sunday school, quit doing homework, and in time, experiment with marijuana

At one point I was so distraught about what the congregation must be thinking that I offered to resign. "I know the biblical qualifications for an elder include the ability to manage one's household well," I said to the board. "I'm not sure I qualify any longer for this position.

"My father ...

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