Driving home from work yesterday, I flipped over to a radio station on impulse and the phrase being spoken, which still echoes in my heart, was “If you’re the parent of a prodigal, don’t give up”. Having missed more than half the broadcast, I was hesitant to continue, worried I would not get the gist of what the intended focus was to be. My heart, on the other hand was leading me in the direction of staying, listening and learning.
Families are complex in themselves, but when a severe trauma is thrown into the mix the possibilities for destruction of the family unit are endless, and the risk of a lost sheep is inevitable. I have found myself on many sides of this unfortunate equation, from being directly involved to a concerned friend looking on from a distance, and no matter how the stories develop or what the reasons are, the pain and struggle are real and should be considered an extreme loss.
In the parable of the Prodigal (Luke 15:11-32), the focus was the mans son, but who is to say that in our lives, the prodigal can’t also be a spouse, another family member, or even a friend; any Child of God, who has separated themselves from family, those they love, and our loving God.
I have always been impressed with the father in the parable and his commitment to waiting with complete love and respect in his heart for his son’s return. I believe it is his faith that gives him the strength to do so. It is his faith, which allows him to welcome his son back into his life with no questions asked; and it is through the need for compassion, they are reunited.
Remaining on the radio station and listening to the last five minutes of the broadcast, meant the world to me. First, it reminded me that no one is alone in suffering, not only are we held in God’s embrace, there are other’s going through similar circumstances. Secondly, strained relationships are far more prevalent than ever before and it is a fast growing concern for any family, broken or not. And lastly, I learned that it is OK to be in a state of unrest, frustration, sadness, and despair when grieving the loss of a prodigal as long as we know what to do with those emotions.
One of the callers on the broadcast suggested simply praying “Help me God”. Other suggestions are “Heal his/her heart”, or “Please love them as I love them”.
Prayer, an intimate conversation with God, can be a replacement for picking up the phone and setting yourself up for the rejection that is most likely on the other end. When that urge hits to reach out to your prodigal and you are not sure if it is the right thing to do…pray and let God lead.
In the meantime, if you need to fill an empty space, imagine that all of the energy which goes into the worry, frustration, and sadness, will, in God’s time, be transformed into a beautiful reunion, filled with compassion, love, understanding, and the blessings of God.
For anyone suffering from this loss, please know that you are being lifted in prayer by all others who are waiting, wondering and hoping for their returning prodigal. If you have a similar story and would like to share, please lift other’s up by commenting.
Many Blessings to All,
Welcome Home, Prodigal Child of God