I have been sitting here debating whether to write about this or not. It’s a sore subject for me. I want to talk about broken relationships. This hits close to home for me because it exists within my own family. Thankfully my immediate family is strong and intact, but my extended family has some major wounds. Actually it looks a bit like a war zone. The reasons really aren’t important. You could blame anything really, and it would probably apply somewhere. Mistakes were made, mental illness plays a part, marriages were strained, beliefs were disagreed on, blame was slung like manure. The results are all the same. Fallout, and carnage and none escaped unscathed.
How on earth do you fix this? I really don’t know. I have more questions than answers. I don’t know how to fix it and it eats little nibbles of my peace. For the most part I am busy with my own family, my kids, close relationships with our parents and siblings and best friends. The ruins begin to appear when you look further than that. I find myself occasionally staring into space thinking of those who aren’t around anymore. Thankfully it’s not entire sides of my family, but there are a few souls who are completely missing by choice. Great memories of good times together and missing them, swirled together with the sewage of misunderstanding, confusion, abandonment, hurt, anger and pain. I hate that. I really hate all of it actually. I hate that there is no way for me to even help them reconcile. None of it ever had anything to do with me anyway, and yet, I have shrapnel injuries from the explosion that dismembered our family. It’s a tragedy. Shakespeare pre-told these stories. They are more enjoyable to read than experience, and reading them is as pleasant as a surgical bowel prep.
I think this situation is common and heartbreaking. I don’t even know how to accurately describe that this emotional injury goes deep enough to result in intermittent numbness.
I’ve heard people describe losing a limb. It hurts immensely at first and then sometimes it even tingles or itches like it still should be there, and then you remember it’s not.
Losing someone feels similar this, especially when they have chosen to vanish. There is just emptiness engulfing the space their soul should be occupying. It sounds harsh, but it makes you wonder if death while a relationship is good, is easier to swallow than abandonment by choice. I wouldn’t choose either, but there is something so scarring about rejection. I bet Jesus feels the same way when we walk away. I completely understand why he’d leave the ninety nine to go after the one.
11. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
15. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
18. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
This passage clarifies so much for me. The whole scene. I almost picture Jesus taking my face in his hands and him saying; Amy, just love them from here. Pray for them. Extend a hand if given the opportunity. You may just have to love them from back here where they left you. I love them too. Sometimes they leave me back here as well. This free will is not always easy. Sometimes free will means they leave. Keep on loving them. There is always a chance they will return. If they do, we run to them with open arms and we rejoice. So many leave and stay gone, but sometimes a prodigal returns. Then we rejoice.
11. And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them hisliving.
13. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
I do realize a valid point of this story, is that this prodigal returned. He came back on his own accord. Some don’t. There is something to be said about the fact that the father and brother didn’t go find the prodigal still sleeping with pigs. They didn’t force clean him up, rescue him, or drag him back. They let him return when his heart was sincere and changed.
We all play a character in this story at some point in our lives. We are the heart sick worried father, or the prodigal son, or even the angry prideful brother. I think each carries it’s own emotional toll. The prideful brother completely missed the fact he’d been blessed to never have faced what his brother had. His anger, hurt, resentment, and pride, smothered out the joy that could have had in making amends. He completely missed the obvious privilege he’d retained just by never having become the shame of his family. He didn’t face humiliation, deep hunger or nakedness. There is blessing in never having slept with pigs or gone hungry. This reconciliation could have been a beautiful reunion between brothers, and instead he chose bitterness. I hope I never get trapped in bitterness.
Our aim is to always embody the heart of the father. Let me rephrase that. The aim is to always embody the heart of our Father in Heaven. To always be ready to run to the prodigal with our arms wide open and full of joy, and welcome them home. I hope and pray for that day.
If you are the prodigal…come home.
This is JJHeller, “When you come back to me.” I imagine it sung from the perspective of Jesus. I send my love and hugs to all of those of you.