Letting Go: Rugged Love for Wayward Souls





What do you do when someone you love leaves? And how do you pursue someone who has hurt you, who has sinned against you?  In Letting Go, pastors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert share stories of pain and stories of hope as they reveal how to care for the prodigal who has strayed.  Whether you are dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner, a rebellious child, or a wayward friend, the counsel they offer will help you to pursue a gospel-rooted approach, grounded in truth and practiced in the midst of Christian community. 

While each situation is unique, most stories deal with common themes of shame, guilt, confusion, uncertainty, and struggle.  You will understand the spiritual dynamics at work in the heart of the prodigal and how you as a family member, spouse, friend, or church leader can best relate to them in love.  You will learn how to practice “redemptive release” through confrontation and discipline as well as how to forgive the person who has hurt you through a process of reconciliation. For those in a time of waiting and wondering if their loved one will ever return home, there is a reminder of the hope of the gospel and the necessity of depending upon the Holy Spirit through prayer.  

A must-have resource for every believer struggling to love the prodigal back home again, it is ideal for parents and siblings, counselors, pastors, and those ministering to hurting families and churches.


Few realities are more painful than watching a cherished loved one make rebellious decisions that will lead to their destruction. As a pastor and counselor I have walked with countless parents, spouses, siblings, and friends agonizing with them over how to love someone who refuses to take help. Letting Go is a book I wish could go back and give to each one of those hurting people. It is a book I will give to everyone of them in the future. This book by Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert is essential reading for all those with wayward loved ones and for all of us who are called to walk with them in the pain. -- Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

When we are faced with letting go of a wayward spouse or child we need the wisest of companions to comfort, guide and even challenge us. Dave and Paul are those companions. They give no trite formulas or one-size-fits-all. Instead, they remind us of God’s intimate familiarity with our troubles and how he says more than we might think. Expect them to lead you into humble confidence and resilient hope. -- Ed Welch Ph.D., Faculty and Counselor, CCEF

This compassionate and wise book gives voice to the disorienting shame, bitterness, weariness, and fear when foraging for love amid the brutal relational conditions of a prodigal world. Like a kind and sturdy friend who’s walked in our shoes, it gives us room to vent, grace to be understood, counsel to get through the next hour, the next day. Most of all, Rugged Love recovers us to the healing sanity and unshakeable provision of Jesus. A superb help for our work of pastoral care. A sage companion for our human wrestling with love. -- Zack Eswine, Author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows; Pastor of Riverside Church, Webster Groves, Missouri

With biblical wisdom and pastoral gentleness, Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert have crafted an excellent help for those facing the unique challenge of giving grace to those who spurn it. I am grateful for this important book. Letting Go does wonderful justice to the complexity and the versatility of true Christian love. -- Jared C. Wilson, Director of Content Strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


Dave Harvey serves as the Pastor of Preaching at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, Florida and is the bestselling author of When Sinners Say “I Do.”  A pastor for over 25 years, Dave has been involved in church care, church planting, and international ministry.  He also serves as the board chairman of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and the Sojourn Church Planting Network and lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife, Kimm.

Paul Gilbert is the lead pastor of Four Oaks Community Church. Paul received his MDiv and MA from Reformed Theological Seminary in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as a PhD in Marriage and Family from Florida State University. Paul currently serves on the board of Am I Called? ministries.