Growing Up is Hard to Do (Fourth Lent)

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in Sinners and eats with them, treating them like old friends”. Their grumbling triggered this story … “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours – but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! he was lost, and he’s found!’ ” (Luke 15: 1 – 3, 31 – 32)

Living with his parents for the boy was never easy. So often he dreamed of moving out; of going to live with his grandparents. He wouldn’t exactly say that he hated them, but he thought it often. Now, 40 years later, he knew that this was part of growing up. No family is perfect. Most of his friends had problems and conflicts with their parents. But at the time he thought he was the only one. After all, no one went around telling their friends how crummy their life was at home. Friends’ lives and families always looked so much better than one’s own – from a distance.

He thought of running away. “If I run away, they will realise how much they miss me and what kind of parents they are”. But he was too chicken to actually do it. He was afraid that if he did, they would find him and his dad would probably kill him.

He doesn’t know why or what gave him the idea, but he wrote them a letter. It was a long and convoluted letter: “You never tell me that you love me,” was the gist of it.

His mum responded: “We show you that we love you. You’ve never gone hungry; you’ve had so many opportunities. We go on summer holidays together. We’ve never missed any of your concerts or sporting events. Everything we have is yours. We may not say that we love you, but we do, and what’s more, we show you”.

And it was true. The reason he didn’t run away was that his life was not perfect but pretty darn good. His parents gave everything for their children. Now, 40 years later and himself a father, he really understands the challenges they faced, and he is grateful for them.

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