The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one the most well-known stories (parables) that Jesus told. Most of us can see ourselves in the self-centered, wayward son. In Stumbling Toward Wholeness, author, Andrew Bauman, delves deeper into the characters and proposes that we are actually all the characters. At different points in our lives, we model the characteristics of the Loving Father, the jealous, frustrated Older Son, and the wayward, selfish, Prodigal Son.
Personal change begins when we see ourselves accurately and are willing to dig into the stories of our lives to become the person we were meant to be. There has to be a willingness to see clearly the different people we are in different parts of the stories of our lives. We also have to include others in the search for our purpose in life. (The author makes a great point in saying we must be careful who we include in working through our story because there is always the potential for damaging relationships.)
The book is divided into three sections. The Runaway Son deals with that part of us that deals with shame, self-contempt, and considering ourselves the victim. The Entitled Older Brother looks at contempt (of others) and betrayal. The Welcoming Father helps us understand the need to grieve our mistakes and being kind to ourselves. Each chapter ends with questions that dig deeper into our own life experiences to draw us closer to understanding ourselves. Questions like, what purpose has been served by your own pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of pain? Or, reflect on a time when you felt shamed by another person. And, identify some ways you have been resistant to kindness.
My favorite quotes include:
- pg. 47 “To journey toward change, we must first make a commitment to be on our own teams.”
- pg. 78 “Jesus continually calls us to look at ourselves in the mirror and tell the truth about what we see.”
- pg. 125 “…no matter how hectic our lives or crazy our mental states, we can be still and know God (Psalm 46:10). He is always available, even when we are not.”
- pg. 152 “…superficial standards of perfection have no actual relation to personal piety or spiritual maturity. If we have no safe places to bring our real struggles, doubts, and heartache, we are likely to stray further from the truth and deeper underground with our pain.”
If you really want to take a close, personal look at the person you are I highly recommend reading this book and truthfully answering the questions. In fact, find a friend who you can trust and work through it with them by your side. I guarantee, it will be worth it.
Blessings to you and yours!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”