I'm the oldest child in my family which means I fall under many of the typical first child stereotypes: people pleaser, high stress, type A, etc. I do things the right way the first time and if I can't do something well; it's not worth my time doing at all. I prefer for life to behave like a formula; if I do A and B correctly, C is my earned and predictable outcome. In the parable of the lost or, prodigal, son I have spent most of my life identifying with the older brother, not the wild & wooly younger (read: lost/prodigal) child. In fact here's what the older brother (me) tells his dad upon the return of his sibling:
"Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostates come home, you kill the fattened calf for him!" (Luke 15:29-30 NIV)
He had done everything right where his brother had done everything wrong.
Don't squander family money: Check
Don't live in immorality: Check
Stay with family and perform all expected duties: Check
I would also be peeved when my kid brother, the screw-up, finally makes his way home and not only is dad happy about it, he's throwing a party. Where's my 'thanksfordoingeverythingright' party, huh? I feel ya bro.
But here's what I've learned through a little trial and a lotta error that brings me back to a much needed place of humility: we are all the second son. No matter how good I am at doing the right things, I can never do or be good enough to earn my place in the family. And, let's be honest, all those things I think I'm doing well aren't always so good. My prideful heart that hates admitting defeat and words that are quick to anger and slow to apologize - not so great. Internal judgments and out-loud comparisons, jealousy and impatience- not too good. But all parts of me.
I want to believe that I'm not so wayward as to be lumped in with this younger brother. But the truth is that we have all messed up and we're all welcomed back. High stress, people pleasing mess and all.