Healthy Habits

Loving Your Prodigal

What a gracious and loving Heavenly Father we have. He has adopted us as sons and made us heirs to His kingdom. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. by Harriet Michael
son and mother hugging on bench

“I have just about had it with my child!” I exclaimed into the telephone.

Have you ever said those words too? God blessed me with four children so, unfortunately, I have had the opportunity to say those words and feel that way many times. Some of those times I even had good reason to be exasperated with my child.

Three of my children are grown now and the fourth is well on his way. But in those years of rearing children, each has taken turns being a prodigal. Some spent longer in a distant country than others, but they have all been there at least once or twice.

A distinct moment when I exclaimed those words into the phone to my close friend always comes to my mind as I think of challenges parents of prodigals face. That day I was beyond irritated by one of my children’s actions. I was ready to either throw my hands up in defeat or be provoked to some serious anger towards him. So, I did what I always do when I need to vent; I called my close friend, Susan. For ten minutes or more, I grumbled to her. I explained all the ways my child had crossed the lines and challenged the boundaries his father and I set. I shared my heart with her, telling her both how upset I was and also my disappointment, hurt, and fear.

My friend listened patiently, allowing me to vent fully. Then she reminded me once again why she is my “go to” person when I need to bounce a situation off someone and gain a different perspective.

Susan wisely said, “I know what you mean; my son does it too. He plows through lines we have drawn and almost dares us to discipline him sometimes. But whenever he exhausts me, and I am ready to let him have it, something always comes to my mind.”

She had my full attention as I eagerly listened to the other end of the phone.

Susan took a deep breath and continued, “I can’t help but remember that I have options in how I can respond to my child. I can respond to him according to what he deserves, and I would be justified in doing so. Or, I can respond to him according to the relationship I have with him. He is my son, and I am his mother. Nothing will ever change that. No matter what he or I does, that relationship exists. And then I think about how glad I am that God responds to my sin according to His relationship with me instead of according to what I deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I still discipline my son, but I also make sure he knows I love him and am glad he is my child.”

What a gracious and loving Heavenly Father we have. He has adopted us as sons and made us heirs to His kingdom. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Written by Harriet Michael. Harriet is an author and freelance writer from Louisville, Kentucky. Her work has appeared in magazines, devotionals, anthologies by Lifeway, Focus on the Family, David C Cook, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and more. Born in Africa and the daughter of missionaries, she has been married thirty-eight years, has four children, and two grandchildren. Her books are available here.

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