Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Almost everyone knows the story of the prodigal son. It is a beautiful story of restoration and love about a lost son who comes home. But did you know that there were two prodigals in this story? There was also the older brother, the son who stayed home.
I have to admit, I identify more with the son who stayed home. What about you? Perhaps you have “stayed home” to care for an aging parent, an ill sibling, or an injured spouse. Maybe you are raising a child with special needs. It could be that the job or even church you have been faithful to for years has rejected you. You could be very angry.
Would it surprise you if I said it’s okay to be angry? Anger is a normal human emotion. Anger tells us that something in our life is either wrong or out of balance. It is a signal that something needs to change. It could be that our circumstances or our mindset needs to change. Sometimes it’s both.
I have had to come to peace with a lot of anger over the past 5 years. I lost a job under very unfair circumstances. I was transferred to an office that would have been an hour commute. There would have been no pay difference, and no mileage pay either. I resigned. I was dealing with an illness and couldn’t imagine the added burden of a long commute. I’m certain that was the idea behind the transfer. They wanted me to resign.
I was a good employee. I worked hard and got good performance reviews. But I was pushed out because of an illness and behind the scenes politics. I was angry. I had been faithful for 7 years. And in the end, nobody cared. It took me a long time to forgive all the people involved.
I’ve grown a lot in the past 5 years, but I still feel somewhat stuck in my life and career. I am working on my new business, but I still have a long way to go. I’ve worked so hard to move forward. What more must I do? When will I be good enough? When do I get to celebrate?
The truth is, I can celebrate whenever I want. I always could. I was so wrapped up in my performance mentality that I couldn’t see the truth. It’s not about DO. It’s also not about being good enough. It never was. It’s about relationship. We are completely loved and accepted just as we are.
Those of us who identify with the older brother are prodigals too. We are as lost as the brother who left home. Some of us just don’t know it yet. We don’t realize that we too have squandered our birthright. We have traded our robes of peace, joy, love, and freedom for the pigsty of performance.
In the story of the prodigal son, we never find out if the older son came in to join the party for his brother. We are left to write that ending for ourselves. The doors are open wide, and the feast is prepared. Will you join the celebration? The Father is waiting.