The Prodigal

My heart bleeds for this little prodigal, a lady 29 years old, with two kids.

Ten years ago, I dreamed of her becoming like us. I mean us, as a church. Would you believe that her grandmother had been a Christian before she died? Would you believe that her mother is now a minister’s wife? He uncle too is a preacher; her uncle’s wife is a Bible teacher; her uncle’s kids are all Christians. She has all the reasons to be like us.

I pity this victim of much injustice. Her father, she says, gave her only a name, nothing else. “I have a nice surname, an equally nice first name. But you can never eat it.”

Her story ought to be for Bannawag, or Hiligaynon or Liwayway. All defunct magazines. But that’s my wish list. A few months after she was born, her mother left her in the care of her older sister (the little girl’s aunt), who dreamed dreams for her too but could not deliver those dreams. The aunt was poor, so the little girl too lived in penury. That means she went to school without having breakfast and that her dresses and shoes were hand-me-downs.

Early in her teens, she heard that her mother married a preacher. (Her father she never heard of anymore). What was that supposed to mean? She thought she could now have a home. She thought she could now live with her mother’s new family and be treated as their own. She thought she could now go to college (because all her half-brothers and half-sisters were going to college).

That never happened. She felt the bitterness of neglect.

When her case came to my attention, I saw her as a child who looked like my own. Pity. In Manila, I would invite her to lunch with me and my daughter. I gave her some money so she could buy what she needed. I often called her when I was around. I also instructed my daughter to pay her a visit when I was not around.

But she needed more than us visiting her and providing for her needs. She needed the comforting arms of a mother, the mother who left her when she was just six months old. The mother who was not and had not been, while she was growing up.

So in my own little way, I tried to influence her mother to do what is best for her child–under those circumstances of need. But, again, I was wrong in believing that she would listen to the pleadings of a preacher, or to the pleadings of her preacher-husband. She never did. But the little girl lived with her mother’s family anyway. And I heard that the mother and her husband often clashed. And the bone of contention would almost always be her love-child, the little lady now 29 years old and with two kids.

In the year 2000, I heard that she left the family of her mother and tried her luck again in Manila. But I heard too that she finally became a Christian. Thank God! Even under the worst of circumstances, she had become a child of God! It was her mother’s husband who baptized her. And at that time, she still had that loving impression of her mother. She left her because she said she did not want her to feel hurt or embarrassed or shamed. To me that was a very noble act.

Does her mother love her? is a good question. I believe in a love that works to better the state of the one you love. It is not love in word but in deed. Up to this day, I still am of the opinion that her mother’s heart beats for anyone but her. For she is the painful reminder of her past. Her love-child.

Very recently, she returned to her home province. That is where I met her again. Having heard that she is now worshipping with a group in the city, I felt happy. Happy for her. For I have been praying for her growth as a Christian. I have been praying for her to survive in these cruel and troublesome times.

I saw her the other day, her eyes beaming with love for her two kids. I understand that she loves her husband too. He is a stranger to the place and does not speak the dialect. Their love for each other, like all genuine loves should be, has a way of conquering everything, including differing cultures.

I saw that her two kids did not have anything to eat. I heard that she had tried everything. I heard that she had lost all hopes. And what I saw in her eyes when we met confirmed my suspicions about her troubled life and equally troubled faith. It troubled me too, the troubled faith of this little lady 29 years old and with two kids. Her husband, jobless for a month, has just returned to work. And you understand what return to work means: It gives you some hope. But could it put rice on the table? Payday comes after a month. The only rope you could hang on is somewhat thin.

She called me today and said she needs my help. I said okay. I made a promise. She said she’s happy there is still someone who believes in her. I said I am glad to be of help.

Our communication was long, punctuated by her long silence, or her refusal to answer my question about the idol that I saw the other day in a corner of her house. She is a Christian, a member of the Lord’s church. What is that idol doing there? That idol of the “infant child” did not just rise from nowhere. I am sure that it came because of her great distaste for her mother’s attitude toward her. She is blaming her for what happened to her life.

If that idol could help you in your troubles, why come to me?

On the other hand, this truth comes right to smack us on the face, and we better think about it: Christians by their good deeds can recruit more people for the kingdom of God. Conversely, by their evil deeds, bad attitudes, messy lives, they recruit more people for the kingdom of the devil.

That little prodigal lady needs release not just from earthly, but from spiritual troubles. But we find that sweet release only when we strive to come back. God desires us to make that first step, and wants us to keep on walking on that path toward Him. Stop the blame game; there is no good cause or reason for us to keep blaming anyone for the mess we have made with our lives. Nobody can hinder the prodigal that is us from coming home. But if we return, it is axiomatic that we make a clean break of everything, including the many idols that we have in our hearts–the hatred for those who cause us pain, sorrow and hurt, the unforgiving spirit, the desire to get even, the desire not to forget the past hurts.

I have desired for this young lady to come back, but as of now there is an idol that has come between her and her God.

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