The Prodigal Son's "Ordinary" Brother


I've always kind of felt for the prodigal son's brother. You know the one that tried to please his father the whole time, doing what he wanted him to do? He followed the rules, and, although there is a lesson in the end of the story of how he had a bad attitude, we shouldn't dismiss that how he lived was pleasing to his father. 


I understand that this is a parable portraying the father as our heavenly Father, and the lost son as how we must realize we are lost before we can ever be accepted by the Father. And then there is a lesson thrown in at the end of how we should rejoice even when "huge" sinners come into the Kingdom, because it highlights God's grace.

The Ignored Brother

Ok, with all of that said, I want to turn back to the brother of the prodigal son. I want to take a different twist on the story, and take it away from representing our heavenly Father (just for a moment). Let's imagine that the father in the story was so consumed with his rebellious son that he forgot about his other son's needs. The father's prayers revolved around the rebellious son, his talk was consumed with him, and he made his life function in a way that catered to always being available to watch for the wayward son. 

Now can you sympathize along with me for the son that always obeyed? How sad to be ignored and constantly forgotten because you aren't a problem.

I'm afraid many "good" children have been driven to rebel because they have been ignored due to other siblings taking the attention. They needed to be prayed for and told how special they were too, but their parents forgot to because they were just too easy to parent. Even if they don't become rebellious, there is also the possibility that they will be driven inward, learning not to try to communicate their feelings or hopes. 

Demanding Attention

It isn't just the rebellious people that tend to grab all of the attention. I've seen it happen in classrooms over and over again. The student that gets called on most often is the one that demands the attention. If the student is funny or makes their wants apparent, they are usually the easy choice, whether the teacher realizes they are always picking them or not.

And then there are the people that get chosen as everyone's friends. It is easy to be friends with someone that talks a lot or is outrageously funny. It isn't as easy to befriend a person that takes some work to get to know.

Noticing the Ordinary

I guess I've felt all of these things, seeing them as the one overlooked sometimes. I'm not trying to say it would define my life or anything, but I've tasted enough of it to feel for others when I see it happening to them. 

Try not to be that parent, teacher or friend. Don't ignore the kids that don't cause problems because there are others consuming your attention. Don't always choose people that command your attention. Don't just be friends with those that make you laugh all of the time. Try befriending the "boring" ones.

People need to know they are loved, regardless of how much attention they demand. Most of us fall under the "normal" category, so love as you would like to be loved. Pay attention to the easy, ordinary, non-wave-making people in your life. They need to be noticed too.

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