Monday, February 6, 2012

a different kind of prodigal

I can tell I'm slowly pulling myself together.

Having discussed it with Heavenly Father, we decided that I'm allowed to take it slow...that I could inspect and address my heartache a little bit at a time, so that when I am not handling my hurt I can function as normally as possible.

In exchange, I have to keep becoming better.

For example, I have been studying a wonderful talk by Elder Holland on the parable of the prodigal son. And not actually on the younger son, either -- the older one. The one who stayed home to work on the farm like he was supposed to, and feels angry and taken-for-granted when his ridiculous brother gets a party just for showing up.

One thing I've learned from this talk is that it isn't possible to have more than everything, and everything is precisely what Heavenly Father offers us, prodigal and faithful sons alike. It's the story in Matthew 19, where the part-day laborers get paid the same as the all-day laborers who worked for a greater amount of time and in less favorable circumstances. Christ shared this parable after His disciples asked what they were going to receive for forsaking everything and following Him.

It's almost like He said, "exactly what I promised -- and no, not a thing more."

We shouldn't labor in the kingdom our whole lives expecting some greater reward than our neighbors who struggle to figure out what we are blessed to intuitively understand. We should labor in the kingdom for the joy of the work, and out of an understanding that we are blessed with the opportunity to labor in Heavenly Father's kingdom -- that this opportunity is our reward.

I'm not very good at remembering that. It's easier for me to understand that the gospel makes us different, and if people can't tell that we're different, we're doing something wrong. It's easier for me to understand that I am meant to be a teacher, and as such it's part of who I am to persuade people to be better and use my words to remind them of truth. The downside of this is that I look down on people sometimes. Plus, I try to teach them things that they can only learn on their own, and then I get frustrated and forget who they really are.

I'm trying to realize that so long as each of us become who we need to become, we're all going to be fine -- whether that's after a course of riotous living, or when it's finally time to inherit the farm and "all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer." We're not rivals. No one is perfect, and that puts us all on the same team. We are brothers and sisters, and we should (and can learn to be) excited that everyone gets an equal pay, regardless of the length of their workday. We should and CAN LEARN TO BE excited that the rewards of our current righteousness can be opportunities, now, to build the kingdom in our own particular way.

It's really hard for me to see people missing those opportunities though. It's like I think, "hellooooo, Dad has work for you to do, would you please get with the program?" or "I am just too busy helping Dad to hang out with you -- why don't you come help too, and then we can be together!" Or, I think what it really boils down to... "Is spending all of your inheritance money really more important to you"

But I have learned a lesson over and over in the last year or so, and that lesson is this: it is never the wrong thing to forgive someone. Someone misled you? Someone hurt someone you love? Someone assumed the worst of you? Someone didn't collaborate in your happy future plans?

Forgive them. Love them anyway.

I am still a credit to the kingdom even if someone I love -- anyone, really -- chooses to be somewhere else instead of at home, helping me do Father's work. I bet the brother who stayed home missed his brother every day, and there were some days he wanted to take a break from working the farm, just to go spend time with him. I certainly feel that way sometimes. Regardless, the older brother still deserved his Father's gentle rebuke for his anger and fear.

When it comes down to it, I wander from home too, outwardly or inwardly, and that wandering doesn't change the personal responsibility that I have to obey anyway. Each hardship, each painful result of my wandering, has shown me my weaknesses. Working through each weakness reveals to me the unfailing love of Jesus Christ. I can't fault anyone else for going through that process, too, and the fact that I do sometimes is just one more way I need to come to Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment