You are the faithful spouse, the one who believes in Marriage despite its ups and downs. You are the one who stuck by your family through thick and thin and would have gone to hell and back for your spouse. You are the one who understands what family means and the sacrifices it entails. Sure, you sometimes dream of running off and trying something new, visiting exotic lands, and just getting away from the monotony and the work it takes to make a successful, joyous family, but you also know your responsibilities and are mature enough to live up to them.
You are the good son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
You watch your other half run off to a life of selfish indulgence. He engages in sex outside of marriage, squanders money your family could use. He turns his back on the values he once claimed and blames his unhappiness on you and the life the family
provides chains him to. In effect, he wishes you dead so he could have it all and not have to look at you anymore.
At first you are shocked and heartbroken. You loved this person so much. You had been through so much together. Your world was built on what the two of you would accomplish together as a team. You knew his strengths and thought you knew his weaknesses as he knows yours. You had goals and plans and dreams together. You couldn’t imagine life without this person.
But he chose to walk away. You watch, unable to prevent him from leaving. You question all you could have-should have done over the course of your growing together that would have prevented this moment. You doubt yourself and despise your imperfections. You blame yourself. You get angry at this abandoner but also at yourself and the rest of the world that allows and encourages this, at your friends who choose his friendship over yours.
And still you toil away at home. Your partner ventures out to find his fun, taking the trips you dreamed of doing together without you, buying property and fixing it up exactly as you had planned to do, and having relationships with foolish, unsuspecting women who should know better but are too wrapped up in themselves to care, women excusing their promiscuity by issuing ultimatums that lure your partner away in an attempt to justify a selfish brand of “love.”
In the meantime, you are home paying bills with limited resources. You are caring for family members hurting at least as much as you are and who rely on you to see them through day after endless day. You are left providing values to little ones who see the adventure and excitement and fun in your abandoner’s lifestyle and the monotony and struggle and repetition in your faithful lifestyle. You are worn down by having no one to back you up when conflict arises or unsure of how to stand for faith when younger ones scorn your attempts. You are left alone to provide a strong, positive role model and to teach precious souls to treat others gently, respectfully, lovingly when they see riches going instead to those who use people, flaunt dictatorial power, objectify women, and elevate premarital and extramarital sex to ungodly depths.
Yes, you are the loyal spouse. Days get dreary and there are so many times you question whether this is all worth it. Many days you want to quit and run away too. Your job is hard and there seems to be little payoff, but you know you are doing the right thing and that you have the Father’s Love.
Doing the Impossible – Embracing The Return of the Prodigal Son
You know this until the day you hear of your other half’s return and the embrace his Father has given him and then you begin to question everything.
What was it all for? All those endless days, all those tears cried when no one was looking, all those shouts to the Lord to ease your burden, all those pleas to God to show you your worth? Why did you bother being good when this sinner is given such glory?
It’s easy to identify with the Good Son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In abandonment and divorce, the loyal spouse is the one who looks after the family despite how hard it is. It can be easy and understandable to harden hearts to the deserter, but that is not what we are called to do.
You have been the good son all this time, doing all the work, following through on responsibilities, praying and providing positive examples whenever possible. If there are signs your other half is returning to the faith even if he does not return to the family, will this cause you to turn your back on all the goodness you’ve done so far?
We are rightly told to guard our hearts. This means not trusting blindly. We know the truth behind the statement, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” and we are right to watch for signs of deceit and selfishness in the deserting partner.
But we are also told to soften our hearts; we claim to believe God can change hearts. We have seen the change within ourselves, slowly, painstakingly, over time, and we are therefore forced to face the fact that the Lord, who is all good, all powerful, and all knowing knows all the evil the abandoner encouraged and yet Loves him anyway. We have to face the fact that God’s Love for the person who causes such pain is more powerful than the wrongs committed against you.
This means we must hope for signs of goodness and a return to the Father in the abandoner. Society has mistaken a good father for one who pays child support and sees his children regularly. This is scraping the bottom of the goodness barrel and asking so little of men who were created to be so much. Yes, paying child support is good thing, but it does not make a good provider, exemplify manhood, or signify a return to the faith.
What we, as the Good child, must pray for, hope for, watch for, and encourage are signs of the prodigal son in the abandoner, namely a request for forgiveness (even if his sin of pride prevents a verbal expression of such) and evidence of humility and Grace at work in his life.
We must be wary of the deception we now know this person is capable of and question whether he has ulterior motives, but if godly traits are real, if the abandoner really has accepted Jesus in his heart, we must be prepared to welcome him back into the Kingdom. We must hold nothing back for our brother in Christ, for this beloved child of God.
When this is hard to do, be the Good son, follow your patterns. Do the next right thing. Turn to your Father. Do not be afraid to question Him. Do not let your abandoner’s success harden your heart but find thanks in his return and make the point to curl up in the arms of your Father assured that He will always have infinite, incomparable Love for you.
The Lord’s Love is unlike anything we are capable of. His Love, His gifts, His forgiveness are not limited in the way ours are. Embrace all the Lord offers and guard but soften your heart in hopes of the prodigal’s return in whatever capacity that return shows itself.
You are the good son. No matter what, the riches your Father has stored up in Heaven for you will be given to you. You are precious and Loved. Everything Jesus did He did for you. Everything in the Lord’s Kingdom is promised to you. You are the good son. Your work is noticed and appreciated, and you are forever perfectly, infinitely Loved.
*There is so much to this Gospel and this parable in particular! Read my other posts:
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