Coping with Prodigals During the Holidays

Having a prodigal family member can be wearisome, especially during the holidays. The time that is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of year,” seems to be incredibly stressful, exhausting, or even depressing. It can serve as a reminder of a painful past or the reality of what we have lost. Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions can be tiresome to think of the ones we love and have lost.

In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the younger son takes his inheritance and goes into a far country to waste it. The meaning of a prodigal is “a person who has spent his resources wastefully,” or in other words, “a child who leaves home and wastes the spiritual inheritance that his parents have invested in him.”

Notice that the father in the parable does not stop his child from leaving and making his own choices. Instead, the father faithfully stays home and prays, and waits for his child to return to him. When the ones we love astray from us, there is hurt and sadness. We have to allow those people to leave us, even if we are left with the agonizing pain of rejection and loss.

Whether the prodigal in your life is a child, a sibling, a parent, or another close family member, it is easy to get depressed and discouraged. Be on guard to not compare yourself with other families that you see in public or on social media. There are many unhealthy ways to manage the holidays without the ones you love. Instead, stay home, pray faithfully, and watch for signs of repentance and change of direction. Until that time comes, do not support rebellion, and do not interfere.

 

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