Hope for the Prodigal
I recently came across a book by Pastor Jim Putnam called Hope for the Prodigal. I think it could be an encouraging read for those who have a “prodigal” living at home or who has moved away. Putnam asks the question, “What does an ideal home, one that is hard to leave but easy to come back to, look like?” That’s a great question since many have come from less than ideal homes and have a difficult time identifying what a healthy home life looks like.
Putnam contends that this type of home will have “love and relationship, boundaries for our own good, and respect for all. It would be a home where people are loved no matter what, and there are restoring conversations, grace, and forgiveness in action. It would be a place where real discipleship is taking place, people are being helped to draw closer and closer to Jesus.”
You may have thought “yes, no, or maybe” in some of those different areas of your family life. You may have identified some areas where your family really shone, and other areas not so much. My family was strong at showing love verbally and emotionally, but struggled with boundaries and restoring conversations. I’ve worked with many families who struggle with grace and forgiveness. No family is perfect, of course! All families have areas they need to work on.
A home that is hard to leave but easy to come home to is a place where we provide for our children the real version of Christianity—not a harsh and unforgiving version. As parents we need to start with ourselves. When our relationship with God is healthy, then we can model that for our children so they can come to the Lord and build an authentic faith. Many parents hear that they need to create a home that honors God, and assume that means a home that is a ‘no-fun-zone.’ A home of rigidity and inflexibility. A home where you must look a certain way, act a certain way, and behave in a way that doesn’t embarrass the family by making a public mistake.
No matter how you cut it, parenting is difficult and it’s a lifelong assignment. Your prodigal will find a real desire to come back when he/she sees some of these principles in action.
Grace and peace,