When Jesus taught in parables, He wanted us to identify with people in the story and learn how to apply the parable to ourselves. So, which person in the parable of the prodigal son do you most identify with?
I'm going to bear my soul a little bit here... Many times in my life, I have identified with the "other brother." The one who stayed home and tried to do all that his father asked. I didn't realize how much I identified with the other brother until Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk at general conference called "The Other Prodigal." I actually remember sitting up and saying out loud: "Hey, that's how I have felt!"
Honestly, it isn't something to be proud of. I, in my selfishness, have been put out when others, who have made mistakes, are welcomed back with open arms, while I have been steady all along. Elder Holland gives a glorious sermon about this concept and helped me to realize that nothing is taken away from me when someone else is rewarded for returning. He said this:
"Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies. It is Lucifer, our common enemy, whose cry down through the corridors of time is always and to everyone, “Give me thine honor.
But God does not work this way. The father in this story does not tantalize his children. He does not mercilessly measure them against their neighbors. He doesn’t even compare them with each other. His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for the other. He is divinely generous to both of these sons. Toward both of his children he extends charity."
This parable is one of the most layered and deep parables the Savior shared. Who hasn't identified with the prodigal son, who went seeking for the pleasures of the world, only to find that they are hollow and of no value? Who hasn't felt ashamed when they realized they have hurt a beloved parent by their behavior and choices?
Who hasn't identified with the father of the wayward child? Who hasn't realized that, as a parent, you can't force your children, but only watch and wait for them to find their way back home to you?
I absolutely love the Savior's teachings of forgiveness and love without limits in the parable of the Prodigal Son. I encourage you to read it again and see who you identify with the most at this time in your life. I also encourage you to listen to Elder Holland's talk which is posted below. It has had a huge impact on me and I know that you will also hear something that pricks at your heart and gives you greater understanding of God's love for you.