When I was a little girl, I had "The Beginner's Bible"- and the characters all looked kind of creepy with their cloud-like facial hair.
I remember reading the story of the prodigal son dozens, if not hundreds of times. I always felt sorry for the prodigal son. He obviously had some issues that I could not really wrap my mind around (especially as a 5-year-old). Whenever we got to the end of the story, I thought my heart might burst of joy because of the reconciliation and forgiveness that took place between the father and the son. He finally came to his senses, and his father took him back in, no questions asked. It's a beautiful story of redemption.
It wasn't until a couple of months ago that I really thought about the brother. The one who was responsible, loyal to his family, and did as he was told. He couldn't wrap his mind around how his father could show so much grace to someone who broke his heart and rebelled. It was unfair. It seemed so wrong. Then the father responded and said "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours [...] was lost and is found." Luke 15:31-32
I have always been a rule follower. If someone was disappointed in me, that was punishment enough. I can't relate to people who rebel- it's not in my nature. I'm 100% about justice. In my world, you reap what you sow. In most scenarios that I've experienced, justice wins.
I'm the older brother.
I'm not enough about grace and compassion. When those things win (and they rarely do in today's world), it's really, really hard for me. We're talking about getting to the point where I cry because it's just not right. Why are my efforts overlooked because someone else took only one step in the right direction, when I've been moving in the right direction all along?
It's hard for me to confess that this ugly side of me exists.
I'm still a work in progress. I'm trying to grow in compassion and grace towards people. Is it easy? Heavens no. Will it ever be? There's no telling. But instead of comparing myself to others and getting all high and mighty about what I've done right, I am trying to celebrate the accomplishments of those who are trying to make things right, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
Grace. Compassion. Perseverance.
These are the three words that I will be repeating over and over in my head for a long, long time.