I've recently discovered something about myself that I did not love to learn. It really came as kind of a big surprise to me, and even though the Spirit brought it to my attention some months ago in the form of a story from the scriptures, I still just thought "Hm. Is that really me?" And then didn't want to think about it anymore and so didn't. It's come up a few times since then, but a couple weeks ago it came back again, loud and clear. There was simply no denying it anymore.
The story is one you know -- that of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15. I've heard this story a thousand times, thought it through hundreds of times, have actually PERFORMED it hundreds of times, it is one I know and love. And all this time, I thought the story was really about the younger son. Or even the Dad.
But for me, I have discovered, it's not. Not really. For Marie's life, the story is about the OLDER son.
Some time ago, I came across the story again and after learning about the older son again, the thought was whispered to me, "That's you." And I thought -- nnnooo. That's not ME. Nope. And ran far, far, far away from that thought.
But then a little Mormon Messages video came along about this story and the Double B and I were watching it, but when it was over, I just felt -- not warm and fuzzy. Because it was so clear... THAT IS ME. I am that person. I struggle that way. Let's face it -- I'm never going to go off in riotous living. That was never my way. I stay and I try to be good and do what I am supposed to do. Which is what I want to do. But there have been a few times when I have felt JUST LIKE that older brother. Not about my own brothers -- none of them are prodigals in that way. :) But about other situations. I have been him.
AND IT HAS HELD ME BACK. Oh, boy, has it held me back. In ways I had no conscious knowledge of until very recently.
Lately I've laid awake at night, realizing that for living here for more then a year, I'm still lonely -- I have Bev, thank heavens, but no one else -- not really. I have many, many friends. But no one close to me. We like each other, they think I'm funny, we are very friendly, but NO ONE that knows who I really, really am. And I've thought: Is there something wrong with me? Really -- is it me? Except that I DO have friends. I do. But I have realized it is ME that does not let people get close. No one, really, unless you're willing to use a battering ram and plow the door down. I told the Double B, it's like I have built a fortress around my little family -- almost a force field -- especially since coming here. I know it's just a defense mechanism, but I have focused on the Double B and my three kids to the extent that there has been almost no one else. I've missed home, naturally, because there are people there who have already broken through with me and so they are the ones I think about and would like to be with. It's so strange. And I told my closest friend (especially since we've been out here in the wilderness), I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT WAY ANYMORE.
I hide -- actually hide -- from the people in my distant past, friends that were close to me and that we had a lot of love between us. For what purpose? I have no idea. To protect myself. From what? I have no idea. But it's STUPID to do that. Useless. Lying to myself.
I know that there are some experiences with friendship in my past that were very, very damaging to me -- one that kind of threw the ball in the air, and the other that slammed it out of the stadium -- I can acknowledge that they play a big part of it. Because I am the older son in the parable. Because 12-14 years later, I still am damaged by it. UGH. That is very unpleasant to really face. That the extreme protective wall I carry around myself regarding friendship is only hurting me. The Double B listened to me try to express this and answered honestly that I have been that way as long as he has known me. He's just on the inside, so it's not bad. :)
I simply do not want to be this way anymore. I want to put it down and walk away from it. I am going to take the steps necessary to do so.
The other night we were laying in bed and I couldn't remember exactly how the parable ends. I became pretty obsessed pretty quickly because I thought I knew how it ended, but I wasn't sure. So I opened it up, and guess what -- it doesn't really end. Not for the older son. We don't know what happens to him. His father says to him "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
And that's the end of the story. We don't know what the older son DOES.
My jaw kind of sat there hanging open for a minute. All this time, I thought the story had an ending... and it does... for the younger son. But what about us that are like the older son? What happens to us? And it was almost like the Spirit said:
It's up to you.