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When You Feel Like the Prodigal Daughter

Betsy St. Amant

When You Feel Like the Prodigal Daughter

She’d been fraying my patience all day. Grumpy. Flaunting an attitude worthy of a diva three times her age. Whining, complaining, interrupting, disobeying. I could do nothing right in my daughter’s five-year-old world that day, and at the moment, she couldn’t do much to please me either.

I’d given up trying to smooth things over, rather, we had simply shifted into survival mode that afternoon in the home décor store. Get in, get the goods, get out. She and I had just moved into a new apartment mere days before, and my nerves were shot. Stress level off the charts, my emotions knotted in my stomach, my brain churning a rhythm I couldn’t match.

Up. To. Here. I couldn’t walk three feet around overpriced furniture or underpriced artwork in my search for throw pillows without blinking back tears. Struggling to breathe. Fighting lies with every carpet-muffled step. It’s never going to stop hurting. You’re never going to be enough.

I needed a throw pillow. Because I was divorced, and I didn’t want to be. I had just moved from a 2300 square foot house in the country on three acres, to an 1100 sq ft upstairs apartment in the city. I was a single mom on a single income without a single idea of what our future held.

But come hell or high water (and lately, there’d been plenty of both) I was going to find a throw pillow to help redecorate the living room. Same furniture from the old house, but it needed to look different. Be different. Because I needed to be different and look different.

Somehow, the right throw pillow was going to make everything better.

Which was almost as ridiculous a notion as letting a five-year-old’s attitude ruin everything in the first place. 

But that attitude wasn’t budging, and I’d given to letting her trail behind me in the store, Nana’s iPhone clutched between both hands as she played this game or that game, always staying just close enough for me to keep an eye on her while she shot me attitude-stares because she didn’t want to be there.

Well, I didn’t either. Didn’t want to be in any of it.

But that throw pillow…just needed one with aqua or turquoise…needed to paint over the past. Needed color.

Needed hope.

But the bins were half-empty, the materials the wrong style, the fabric outdated. My frustration built. Could anything go right?

I turned around to announce in defeat to my Rapunzel-haired minion that we could finally go home.

And she was gone.

My brief spurt of anxiety was too short-lived to even count. Because I immediately saw her, a blonde-blur, running down the end of the aisle in front of me. Then a flash, and there she was, crossing back the other way, phone slung forgotten at her side, hair streaming, face red. “Mama?”

I could see her. But she couldn’t see me. I tried to get to her, but she wouldn’t be still. I tried calling for her, but she couldn’t hear me over the sound of her own panic filled cries. She truly believed to the bottom of her five-year-old heart, that she was lost.

“MAMA!”

And nothing else mattered but finding me.

I couldn’t bear it. I stood still in the middle of the store and yelled her name. And there she was, tear-stained and sweaty and heaving. She plastered herself against my side, face buried against me, arms squeezing tight. “I thought you’d left.”

“Never. I would never leave.” I hugged her back, our tears mingling, and just like that, it was gone. All the negative she’d channeled toward me, all the attitude, vanished. Gone. In a simple finger snap of priority change, it had evaporated.

“I just want to be with mama.” She refused to let go of my hand from that moment on. 

Because she’d been lost, and now she was found. She didn’t care about anything else. Not the phone. Not the bad mood. Not the memories. Not the feelings of anger or betrayal or the frustration of not getting her way. Nothing else mattered but clinging to what she knew kept her safe and loved her endlessly.

How many times have we turned our backs on God? Assumed He’d left us because we didn’t get our way, we didn’t understand, because we didn’t want to be where we were at that moment? How many times did we try to drown Him out with the busy-ness of the moment, the drone of technology and schedules and entertainment that can never satisfy?

How many times have we been running, searching our hearts right exhausted, for what was standing there calling to us all along?

My daughter was found that day, but I was the one who realized I’d been lost.

And just like He came for me with a Prodigal Daughter analogy that slapped me across the face in the middle of home décor, He’s calling to you, too. Because He sees you hopeless. Sees your panic and anxiety and your fears. Sees your attitude and frustration and loves you anyway. Endlessly. Perfectly. He’s your anchor and rock in the midst of the unknown and unsure. He’s your steady unchanging among the decisions and choices of life that we don’t get to control.

He’s your turquoise throw pillow—one that colors your life with exactly what it needs in that moment. Sometimes a living room makeover is the least of what needs to be made over.

Stop running—unless it’s straight into His arms.

And be found in Him. 

Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things - chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her ninth Love Inspired novel will release January 2014, while her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, released 2012 through Barbour Books. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing and can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. You can read more from Betsy at www.betsystamant.com and www.writergetsreal.blogspot.com.

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