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Losing Your Father: The Loss of Unconditional Love

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With all the accolades (and sometimes condemnation) that fathers receive from their children, their complexities of those accolades are entangled with a gamut of emotions. Although a father’s parenting style, whether it be regimented or renounced, forges our opinions of “dads” importance in our lives.

When you lose your father, your loss hits on many levels. Here is one that you may be experiencing.

Loss of Unconditional Love – Relationships with fathers can resemble the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The parable of the prodigal son begins with the younger of two sons asking his father to give him his share of the estate. The father executes the sons request by dividing the property between them and gives it to his youngest son. The youngest son then packs together all of his belongings and leaves his father’s home to live in a distant country.

“The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them” Luke 15:12.

During the son’s time away from his father’s home, he lived his life immaturely and spent his money living a wild life. The son lived this way until a famine (recession) hit the country and he had no money left from his inheritance. He does not go back to his dad because he thought he had disowned him for his actions regarding his inheritance and his departure. Therefore, the son is forced to work as a swineherd feeding pigs. In the Jewish religion, pigs are seen as filth and are never to be associated with. Although, the young son had no other choice but to work with the pigs to earn a very small amount of money. The amount of money was so small that he barely had enough to feed himself, and he found himself envying the pigs and thought of eating their repulsive grub. Coming to the point of wanting to eat with the pigs the son had hit rock bottom, and then he finally realized he needed his father and started his journey back home.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father” Luke 15:17-20.

Once the son came close to his father’s home, his father had seen him coming and ran to his returning son with open arms. His father was overjoyed that his son had come back home and barely let his son get a word in. The son tried to explain his sorrows and was asking for forgiveness, but his dad was too excited that he called for his servants to prepare a celebration for his son with fine clothing and a fattened calf. This response was nothing the son had imagined when returning back home.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” Luke 15:22-24.

Eventually the ears of the elder brother picked up the chaos as he returned to his father’s home after working in the fields all day, and he was not impressed with the situation. The elder brother actually became very angry that his father was celebrating the return of his brother when his brother left on poor circumstances. He felt his younger brother should have been shunned like many others would have been if they approached their fathers in the same manner his brother did. The elder brother asked his father for the purpose of the festivities when his younger brother disrespected their father and him, the older brother, worked every day for his father and served him; he was the good son, he thought. His father pleaded with him exclaiming that he is still as valuable and loved like his younger brother, but it is his younger brother that was lost and then found.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘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 dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” Luke 15:31-32.

This parable is an awesome example of the steadfastness of a father’s love. This story highlights the patience of love that defies logic, yet it bespeaks the scripture that defines love……

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1Corinthians 13:4-7

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