I’m sitting in church. The music is roaring. A man is singing his heart out to God. I am moved to tears. The story was about me. In fact, it is me. I break down.
11 Then 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 falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. ~ Luke 15
I made an unprecedented move that would change the course of my life.
It’s the tale of the wayward child who turned his back on the only family he’d ever known. A biblical story that is all too familiar. Unlike the prodigal son, I didn’t leave with a trust fund. But, I did inherit a wounded heart and my 8 year-old boy in tow. And just like him, I ran away believing that starting a new life in a distant land would erase painful memories. A lost childhood. Broken promises. Dead-end opportunities.
Why did he run?
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise. ~ Proverbs 12:15
The parable doesn’t go into why he chose to leave in the first place. We are only left to wonder what drove him to leave home. Did he have something to prove? Did a fight ensue between himself and his brother? Did he get along with his Father?
The 10 year-old in me was ready to bust out of the joint I called home. But, I never fathomed that my past would collide with my present in such a way that it nearly annihilated my future. When we’re standing at a crossroad, isn’t it just easy to pick up and go? Or maybe if we snap our fingers and *POOF* everything will disappear. It was settled, I made up my mind and there wasn’t anyone who was going to stop me. I was headstrong in my decision. Stubbornness can cause blindness to the truth. Often times, we harden our hearts when a friend or loved one extends a word of advice or encouragement.
“Don’t go,” my Mamí pleaded. “Why do you have to go so far away?
I left with a HUGE chip on my shoulder.
I was the second oldest of the bunch, but felt neglected emotionally. I craved for any scrapings of attention from my parents, friends, etc. Nothing could satisfy my insatiable desire for attention. I felt unworthy of love and incapable of capturing anyone’s affection. My biological father kicked my mother and I out when I was only a year old. The seeds of rejection were planted into my young heart, and for rest of my adulthood it wickedly teased and taunted me. My Mom eventually married, but the new man in my life who would raise me as his daughter could never fill the void of emptiness in my heart. Something was missing.
I pulled into the paved driveway of my apartment complex. I had a pit in my stomach. I was expecting a white envelope with “Tenant Apt. C” to receive me when I arrived at my front door. I reluctantly let myself out of the car and slowly made my way to the entrance of the building. I stopped mid-way up the stairs, as I caught sight of the wretched white envelope. I finished the last few steps and walked over to pick it up. I unlocked the door and let it slam behind me. With fingers trembling, I ripped it open, …“This letter is to serve notice that you are being evicted from your apartment and you have 30 days to answer…” 12 years of running led up to this moment. I had lost it all. I couldn’t finish reading it. I felt nauseous. I picked up my cell phone.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ ~ Luke 15
THE AHA! MOMENT.
The prodigal son had a “AHA!”- moment. In his own quest to find himself, he actually lost a valuable piece of who he was and who he belonged to. He allowed the lures and cares of this world to entice him to live outside the will of the father. It forced him to rise above his present situation and go back to his roots. I too realized that I left with an inheritance that I neglected for so long. A spiritual inheritance whose foundation was fortified with faith, hope and love that only comes from Christ. It wasn’t too late to go back. Sometimes in life, God needs to bring us back in order for us to move forward. My healing was going to start where it all began, home.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here 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. ~ Luke 15
I wiped the tears as I glanced over at my Mom who was sitting next to me, smiling. There was no need for words. We sat in awe. It was that night, that the Lord reminded us of His merciful love for all who are lost. He is, and always will be waiting with open arms, ready to receive his prodigal children.
The world had stopped for a moment as I heard the gentle voice of the Father whisper –
“Welcome Home Melissa.”