I have witnessed many prodigal’s who have returned home to their standing spouses who have done virtually nothing to prepare for their return, and it is not pretty! As a matter of fact, it’s outright ugly to witness what an unprepared stander will do to their prodigal once they do return to them. It literally breaks my heart to watch God’s plan fall apart. I have prayed over many standers that their prodigal return, but I realized I should have been praying for the stander to seek God and personally prepare themselves first and foremost. I have warned many standers to do their part in their personal relationship with God before their prodigal returns, just as my husband did before I came home.
To be perfectly honest, there are times when I get so disgusted at the behavior of some standers. I know when I have more interest in what they need to do personally, before their covenant marriages can truly be restored, then they do, I have gone too far and I must back off. I wonder what their motives really were in the first place when they had come to me for “help” or is it that some of them just wanted to vent and play victim some more?
What does a stander think will happen when their prodigal returns to them in a victimized state? Some standers honestly believe their victim mentality is due to what their prodigal has done to them, even though many of us as believers already know this isn’t the absolute truth. A victim mentality isn’t because of what others have done to us, but how we have internalized what they have done to us. A stander with a victimized mentality will only try to make their prodigal pay the price and suffer for their own losses, but these are losses that a prodigal can never return because only God can.
When a prodigal returns, it will reveal every single area of a stander’s broken heart and where they failed to do their part in seeking God for their healing. Let me be clear and warn those standers who are deceived. Your prodigal’s return is not meant to heal your broken heart! God is the only One who can. You must love them! Yes, although your relationship with your prodigal needs to be rebuilt on solid ground, only your trust in the Lord will heal you and lead to the restoration of your marriage. When your prodigal comes back with sorrow in their hearts for what they’ve done, you must FORGIVE them or NOTHING will EVER be restored and they may be vulnerable only to run all over again. Your prodigal will be FAR from perfect, so quit expecting them to make up for what they’ve done to destroy your relationship in the past.
I can warn standers confidently because both my husband and I have been where many of you are today. I can see the problems, and I am here to warn those of you who have not prepared your hearts for your prodigal’s return. It is outright abusive to expect them to return to you broken. A stander is supposed to be one who represents someone who is stable when their prodigal has fallen away from God. A stander should represent the glory of the Holy Spirit in them and the power made available to them through the privilege of using His name in prayer. A genuine stander is a representation to their prodigal of how Christ loves the church. They should not be some kind of poor, pitiful, angry person, who wants nothing more than to take from their prodigal something they haven’t the ability to give. This my friends, is a set up for failure and it saddens me greatly.
When I returned to my husband, the past was in the past, and we were both looking forward to a new beginning, but by no means was I a whole person, yet. I was very unstable and I had times where I wanted to run all over again. I would have been like a ping pong ball if my husband was not secure enough to talk openly and freely to to me about the various dark influences going on inside of me and how to overcome the battles inside of my mind. He knew this was a spiritual battle that was not against flesh and blood. We were not the ones who were supposed to be at war with one another!
I’m sure you know when the Bible says, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (see Luke 6:39). Well, a stander MUST be the stronger one who endures with patience and serenity. They must be kind and thoughtful to their prodigal, and not rude or self-seeking, or keeping account of wrong endured. They must bear all things (regardless of what comes) and endure all things without weakening in the hopes of leading their prodigal back to the Lord, and that is ultimately what I believe a stander is called to do.