• Clarice Aeby

What about the prodigal's mom?

There is a kind of love that is lay-down-your-life palpable.

Most moms have it whether they have newborns or “kids” in their seventies. There is an undeniable similarity – Passionate Devotion.

Mothers can also find common ground in the periodic pursuit of their personal survival. Young moms are exhausted, pulled in ten directions any given hour of the day. They are often working hard to preserve some semblance of self: “Am I good for more than diaper-changing?”

Attentive young moms can do a lot of introspection – sometimes in the quiet hours of darkness. “Should I have said or done something else? How will this play out in the long run?” And more…

Young moms have the Gift of Possibilities. They have the hope that tomorrow can be different. A few adjustments can often make a significant impact in a little life

Moms of adult kids also have some silent-night wonderings. But sometimes they can encounter a shut door, with not even a slightly-opened window in sight. Sadly, no longer a voice in their lives. It seems backwards. Because let’s face it, most of us have far more wisdom at 50 than we did at 25

Recently I cried with a friend who is in one of those closed-window spaces with her adult child. The pain can be debilitating. She shared in a circle of grace-filled friends that she simply doesn’t know what to do and can’t find a crack to let even a gentle suggestion land on this wandering young adult.

“The Bible should have a chapter written for this part of parenting!” I declared as our eyes met.

“The Prodigal Son!” we laughingly said in unison.

This well-known Bible story is about a son who left the blessings and comfort of his family to make his own way in the world. In his foolishness, he turned dramatically from what he’d learned, wasted all his money, partnered with prostitutes, and eventually nearly died of starvation.

Then “he came to his senses,” as the verse reads, realizing his sin was against both God and family and headed home.

In most Bibles, this story is titled “The Prodigal Son.” But I think of it as “The Compassionate Father.” This rebellious and foolish son was greeted by a Dad who ran to him with open arms, ready for a celebration.

The Lord chose to give us some details of the wayward son’s life. About the Compassionate Father – we see only the results of what must have been anger, self-reflection, despair and some sleepless nights. I’m only guessing here. But I think my projection has some basis. After all, the signs indicate a father who loved deeply. He was fully human, so how could this rejected love not have included pain?

As this circle of Girlfriends stepped a little deeper into the story, we observed:

Dad did not send out spies to bring back his wanderer.

Dad did the hard work of forgiveness, releasing his son, resulting in a heart that was soft, a heart ready to receive and celebrate.

“What about Mom? What was she doing?! “ asked the tearful mother at our table.

Silence. The stillness revealed our need to imagine – that’s all we had without Bible story detail to uncover this mystery. Then we began guessing:

“She was tending the goats!”

“She was darning the socks!”

“She was chopping the leeks!”

For the little we are privileged to know about the story this side of heaven’s question-and-answer sessions, we can guess she was doing exactly what her husband, “The Compassionate Father,” was doing – working through desperate pain to a soft heart.

As the story continues we see the oldest son grappling with the apparent unfairness of his Dad’s reaction to a self-centered and foolish brother.

“My son,” the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

And hidden in Dad’s compelling response is one tiny word that captures my attention.

“We.”

“We had to celebrate and be glad.” Who is this “we” if not the mother of the adult son they had wept over, talked about, prayed for? Without even consulting his wife before suggesting a Big Party – he knew her heart. WE HAD TO CELEBRATE.

I know my “insights” are more conjecture than factual. But acknowledging the male-dominant perspective in this Biblical narrative, I don’t think the leap is too great to make.

This woman’s heart had also been softened through the years of walking a pain-filled journey of motherhood on the far side of diapers.

A soft heart is always a good place to land.

TO CONSIDER: Are you in the midst of a painful journey? What might it take to be honest and teachable before God until softness enters your heart?

“God not only helps us to see Him more clearly, but He also equips us with the ability to see ourselves more clearly.” - From No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

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