I have a friend who is walking a path where I cannot follow. Naturally, this is a rather painful fork in the road, because I will always love him, and I've spent lots of time with him in the past months. So I struggle with the part of me that wants to hold on, and the part that knows I must not.
I was talking with my dad about it, and he brought up the parable of the Prodigal Son. I thought to myself: Oh no, not this again. I don't want to hear all the crap about how one day he'll come back, because quite frankly, that's not true, and it's not my purpose to decide if he will or not. And I hate being optimistic about things that bug me.
However, Dad surprised me. He said, "When the Prodigal Son left home, what did his parents give him?" I thought for a moment as realization of what my dad was telling me dawned slowly.
When their son left home, his parents gave him all they could. His entire inheritance. They didn't tell him to spend it wisely. They probably knew he'd waste it on living in ways they did not approve. They were probably sad and a little bit weepy. They knew he was moving in a direction they could not follow--but they withheld nothing. They gave him all they could, and sent him on his way.
And so I will do the same. I have given whatever my friend would accept of my time, love, and friendship. I have made nothing conditional on his decisions, convictions, or actions. I cannot go with him, but I hope he will take with him the knowledge that I will always love him...and if he ever needs a place to rest for just a moment, I hope he remembers that there is a place of safety and peace with me.
There is much to be learned in the words of Christ. That never seems to change.