‘Then he said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.’ Luke 15:11-13
It’s been a long week. The 30 day retreat I meant to do every day has melted into the reality of the month of May with its tornadoes, end-of-school year awards ceremonies, graduations and other myriad of functions and obligations which must be met. And so it goes—the best laid plans, as the saying goes.
I have started almost a dozen posts on this Scripture story, which is a favorite. Sometimes, like Father Henri Nouwen,¹ I think I could write a book on that parable; it is so rich and meaningful.
Instead I’ll just share that our family is in the middle of its own prodigal child story. No, it isn’t one of my own children, thanks be to God. But I know the young woman's parents and they are at least as loving and well-intentioned as my husband and me, if not more so. I don’t see them as to blame for their daughter’s behavior any more than I believe we can take credit our grown children's successes. As parents, we all did the best we could. Then our children made their choices.
Recently, this daughter wrote her heartbroken mother an e-mail in response to this one:
“Dear R, I would love to hear from you, just to know if you’re all right.
“Hey, don't bother replying to this, but yes, my life is fabulous. It's done nothing but go uphill since I decided to ditch anybody that holds me back from getting what I want in life.
Hope you all have a great life, best of luck, etc. No hard feelings. Please feel free to forward this on to anybody I'm related to who hasn't yet got the clue that I turned in my club membership card a while back.
P.S. This was written by me, R, and not M². Just thought I'd throw that on there for all the low-expectation morons who missed the part where I stopped being 14 years old.”
This was forwarded on to us because my husband spoke up to this young couple concerning how they treated family members, thus earning himself the honor of becoming one of the ‘morons’ mentioned.
I don’t usually air family laundry. I don’t like to say anything bad about anyone. And yet, she herself suggested her e-mail be forwarded, which I read as a plea for help. I’ve changed the initials and won’t mention how we are related to this young woman. I just ask for your prayers for her parents, grandparents, siblings and for the young couple in question. Only God can change hearts and even He needs our cooperation, but I do believe in the power of prayer to work miracles.
I also believe in the story of the Prodigal Son. I should. I was something of a prodigal daughter myself once. Although I'm grateful I never wrote such a letter to my own mother, I also know I didn't grow up in this age of instant communication and, in my opinion, instant regret. Still I managed to cause her more tears, disappointment, grief and worry than she ever deserved. I traveled that long and wending road, made my way back to my parents, was forgiven and have had many happy years since, thanks be to God. By His Grace, I pray for the same reconcilation and reunion for this young relative.
Thank you for your compassionate understanding and God bless you for your generosity in joining us in prayer.
‘His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But his father ordered his servants, “Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.”’ Luke 15:21-24
¹ Author of The Return Of The Prodigal Son
² Her husband of three years