There was a kind and gentle man who had two daughters. One day the youngest daughter impatiently declared, “Dad, I can’t wait for you to die to get my inheritance. I want to live and create a life of my own—away from here. I want you to give me what is mine now.”
The father deeply loved his daughter and didn’t want her to go. He knew what life would be like away from his protection. Yet, he gave his precious daughter what she asked.
Not many days thereafter, the youngest daughter packed her belongings, kissed her father briefly on the forehead, and walked away from her home. She traveled to a far country, never looking back or contacting her family.
It wasn’t long before the daughter squandered her inheritance on clothes, parties, drugs, alcohol, and friends. When the money was all gone, her friends began to drift away too. She went from riches to rags, dejected and not knowing where to turn. The young woman began to sell her body just to survive.
As the months turned into years, her looks no longer drew in the men, and those who pretended to want her seemed worse off than she was.
Too ashamed and humiliated to even consider returning home, the girl continued to do anything to stay alive. Hopelessness and despair became her closest companions.
Life was at its worst when the girl thought, My clothes are nothing but rags. I will die of hunger if I don't do something soon. My father has hired help with food on their table. I will go and ask him to have mercy on me. I will tell him, “Dad, I have sinned against God and in your sight. I am not even worthy to be called your daughter. But will you consider hiring me as one of your servants?”
On the long journey home, the girl began to doubt her plan. How could her father take her back? What if he rejected her? With each step, her fear grew.
I am so ashamed of all that I have done—who I have become. How can my Dad love me? Maybe, I should just find a place to die. No one would care.
But something deep inside drove her to continue down the long, arduous path.
While she was still a long distance away, her dad saw her and was moved with compassion. He ran to meet his little girl.
He lovingly embraced his daughter, kissing her tear-stained face. The girl, pulling back, replied, "Dad, I am not worthy to be called your daughter."
Looking down at the ground, afraid she would see pain and anger in his eyes, the girl pleaded.
“I would never presume that I could be your daughter again after all the pain and grief I have caused. You don’t know what I have done—the shame that I have brought our family. I was hoping that you would take me on as a hired hand. I will do anything and everything you ask. Please do not turn me away.”
The father, filled with joy, picked her up and gently placed her in his arms. Carrying her home, he repeated, “My daughter, you have come home. All these years I have waited, hoping and praying for your return.”
She slowly began to look up into her father’s face. The only things she saw were love and relief. The daughter wept.
As they came close to the house, the father continued to hold his daughter tightly, not wanting to let her go. He yelled to the first servant in sight.
“Bring out the most beautiful and softest robe we have. Put it on my daughter. Place her mother’s ring on her finger. Her feet are bare and bleeding. Tend to them and give her shoes to wear. Today, we shall feast and celebrate. My daughter was dead, but she is alive again. She was lost but is now found.”
There was a celebration that day like none other. The years of worry, concern, and fear were over for the father. His daughter had returned. It was time to look toward the future and not to the past.
-JoAnn Zajicek, Director of the Center for Women and Children
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