Clever Humans


Clever Humans do the darnedest things!


3 August 2010

As A Child I Learned The Parable Of The Prodigal

by Patrick

As a child I learned the parable of the prodigal son from the Bible. In the story, a man asks his father for his inheritance, goes and blows it, and then comes begging back to his father, who accepts him with open arms. I always felt it had two meanings, both of forgiveness. The first meaning is the metaphorical meaning of Jesus relating a story about how God feels about us: no matter how bad we fuck up, He will always accept us back. The second meaning is a literal story of how we should treat others: no matter how many times someone has failed, you should always help them back up. Alcoholics and smokers are the example of this I always think of. An alcoholic or a smoker might try to quit 1,000 times. They might fall off the wagon each and every time. But maybe the 1,001st time it finally takes.If you gave up on them after the 12th or the 112th time are you really following the lesson of the parable?

Of course, humans are not God. We cannot hurt God, so it is easy for God to keep giving us more chances. In giving us another chance, He is giving up nothing, sacrificing nothing. But other humans can hurt US, so it is hard for us to keep giving people other chances. It takes time and effort for us to keep giving more chances. It is emotionally exhausting, can be financially draining, and can hurt us physically and mentally. I understand why people eventually give up. Everyone seems to have a limit of some number. Whether they will help only once, or will help only one hundred times, eventually every human gives up. We all have our limits.

But every time the situation comes up, every time I see someone reach the limit where they have finally had enough, when they cannot try and accept the prodigal son back even one more time, where they decide they have sacrificed enough and cannot bear the pain of trying again, I always think, but what if this time was it? What if this time the change this person was trying to make in their lives finally took? Is there really no way you can’t try one more time?

I know that everyone has their limit. When they reach the point of having to sacrifice things they aren’t willing to sacrifice in order to make that next attempt. I know this. I really do. But I have problems *accepting* it. Especially for family. I just don’t believe they can’t try one more time. That there isn’t one more thing they can do. Most of the time, I don’t believe they have even reached a limit of having to start sacrificing things. Most of the time I think trying another time only reaches to the level of an inconvenience, or a slight irritation. I don’t really know. I can’t put myself in someone else’s shoes. But I always think people give up too soon. We can’t be God, of course. Eventually we must give up. But giving up on someone should be hard. It should go against our nature. It should be emotionally painful to us. We should be haunted by it, and always ask ourselves in the future, “could I have tried just once more?”