As the holidays approach, we begin to make plans to see family and close friends to celebrate the festivities of the season. After all, our family is the most important part of our life. But some of us struggle to connect with the family we were born into. Like all relationships, it takes work to connect and stay connected with family. Just because we are related to each other, that doesn’t mean that we’ll get along or have the same interests or values. Sometimes our differences can lead to strife and disagreements. We’ve all had that friend, family member or roommate that we lost contact with or couldn’t see eye to eye on. We’ll often let our emotions get in the way and we find ourselves disconnected from important people in our lives. This is particularly hard when it happens with a family member.
There are many stories about family relations that we can find in the Bible. But my favorite has always been the Parable of the Prodigal Son which appears in Luke 15:11-32. I personally just love redemption stories. If you don’t remember the full story, I’ll give you a short summary.
Jesus starts the Parable by saying that there is a man with two sons. The younger son is foolish while the older is steadfast and loyal. This younger son asks his father for his inheritance early, and the father agrees. With this newfound wealth burning a hole in his pocket, the younger son takes off for a far off land to squander his fortune on a wild, selfish adventure. The money eventually runs out, and the son is left destitute. Deliriously hungry since he has no money, the son decides to return to his father and beg to be hired as a lowly servant on his estate.
As the young son approaches his father’s land his father recognizes him and jumps up to warmly embrace him. He calls for the returning son to be clothed and welcomed into his home. He even calls for the fattest calf to be slaughtered for a celebratory meal. When the older son, who has tirelessly worked on his father’s estate this entire time, hears of his younger brother’s return he is not pleased. He is envious of the preferential treatment he sees his father give his younger brother. But the father does not agree with the older son, attempting to coax him into the festivities. He says, “My son, 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.”
There is a lot to learn from this story, the father accepting his son, faults and all, the older son dealing with his feelings of envy, and the overall theme of redemption. In our modern world, what can we take from this story? To me, it’s about reconnecting with someone who we disagreed with. It’s about forgiveness, but really it’s about acceptance. In this modern age, everyone has an opinion, and makes that opinion known. It’s great that we’re able to have this kind of self expression, but it can cause strife when we’re faced with someone who disagrees with us. But like the older son in this parable, we have to go past our emotions and set aside our feelings and accept those we love, flaws and all.
Reconnecting with those long lost family members, especially during the holiday season, is so important, but really has to come from a place of genuine love. If you’re not ready to set aside your emotions, or hurt feelings, don’t push it. But you have to be honest with yourself. Everyone deals with the trials and tribulations of life differently. You can’t force yourself to forgive or accept, you need to come to it naturally. Just be honest with yourself and your loved ones, and let the relationship grow organically.
Jessica Faylor the author, lives in California. She is currently expecting her first child and is available for freelance writings. If you’d like to contact Jessica for writing assignments, please contact us.