The Not-So Prodigal Son
You're probably thinking something along the lines of, "I wonder what the details of her story of running away and coming back are." Sorry to disappoint, but I'm actually the other son. The one who stays in the house the whole time and gets upset that his "terrible" brother has just been celebrated when he has been "slaving away" in the house all along, not receiving anything. I've been that person. More than once. And not just long ago in my immaturity. But it means that my story is more about learning who I am, who God really is, and what my inheritance is that I can ask Papa for.
I may not have left the house, but I definitely misbehaved. Whether you've been a parent and a child, or you're like me and still have only been a child, I think you can understand that statement. Everyone does things they aren't supposed to do, but that doesn't mean they walked away from family. I'm one of them.
Some, maybe all, of you are wondering how that can be. "Well if she partied or did drugs or had sex outside of marriage, then she wasn't following God. What could she mean?!" Well, what if we think about it this way for a second? If God is our father, then He is a parent teaching His children. Children mess up and need to be instructed. I partied. I have nights I don't remember. I have situations with guys I could have avoided. I've stolen from a store just to see how easy it was (one time. I was maybe 10.), I've touched something hot because I didn't believe it could be that hot (and yes, my mother was right there cooking in that griddle when I did it, knowing full well what I was doing), and I wore makeup before I was allowed to. I've cheated on a test, lied about different things, used people (mostly men. It was a tumultuous time growing into how to date healthy after having had too many experiences in my early years that taught me they couldn't be trusted so I 'got revenge' but really was just controlling my situation), and I haven’t always been great to the people closest to me.
So, you see, there are plenty of things that I could talk about. Plenty of stories that could invoke the response that I "wasn't following God" or "and she calls herself a Christian". But the difference is, I never left. I never walked away and stopped talking to God. In fact, quite the opposite. Like a lot of children figuring things out, I actually had thoughts of "I know I’ve been told I shouldn't be doing this" or "I'm sorry God but I’m going to do this". That's the life of a child who never left the house. I did things I wasn't supposed to, talked to God about them (sometimes immediately, sometimes after battling shame, sometimes after realizing it was wrong), and continued to figure things out all while doing plenty of things I “should” be doing. I don’t remember a single day that I didn’t talk to God, I never stopped reading the Bible or going to church, I’ve run different ministries, and I’ve always had a heart to serve others and acted on it.
I can happily say today that I am healed, whole, and healthy. I'm still not afraid of confrontation or being a leader or doing things that upset people, but I have a different focus, a different heart behind those situations. I can have healthy relationships of all types, genuinely love people and do not judge, seek to bring the fruit of the spirit back into my life when anything else starts to show up, and live a life (mostly) free of ulterior motives. This is not to say that I do not struggle with anything ever, but that nothing has hold in my life anymore. I can now deal with things as they come up so that my life is now about guarding against these things instead of healing from them.
Is this the story of your life, too? Have you always sought God but did things you weren't supposed to do along the way? Or maybe that was you for a long time but you eventually gave up and things finally drove you out. I'm here to tell you that He is a loving and trustworthy parent that will correct but will never kick out. Keep fighting or come on back, whichever fits your story.