“Juan” grew up poor in a Mexican village, learned the dining business, and ultimately opened an upscale restaurant in Mazatlán. It has become a frequent, fine-dining establishment for many of my friends. Last January he sent his daughter to live on a goat farm in England. He “had it” with her “Princess mentality” and decided to bring her down to earth with a lesson in humility.
Juan and his wife met several years ago when she was visiting Mazatlán from London. They married, and along came “Princess.” Without realizing how they were catering to her every desire, both parents became alarmed when their seven-year old daughter began insisting she was “entitled.” Their years of doting on her had backfired, and now she lived in a parenting world they had created but abhorred. Designer clothes. No chores. Only rich friends. Hours in front of the mirror. Mani’s and Pedi’s upon demand. Inability to apologize. Pouting when things didn’t go her way.
In other words, a spoiled brat.
Even more alarming, Princess’s three-year old sister was beginning to mimic her older sibling’s behavior. The parents were soon to have two prima donnas on their hands. After talking, taking away privileges and grounding, Hector and his wife made no headway.
The answer? Make a phone call to the mother’s relatives in England to ask if Princess could spend six months there, living and working among their goats. Their prayers were answered when the relatives agreed. Mom and daughter left soon after.
Sometimes drastic measures are necessary. Sometimes those measures are the greatest demonstration of love.
A famous Bible parable is the story of the Prodigal Son. A man had two sons, the younger one demanding his share of his father’s estate. His wish was granted. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So, he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
For a little background, pigs were considered unclean animals. (Still are, in my opinion, but gosh! I do love bacon.) Jews were forbidden to touch pigs, yet this once-privileged son had sunk so low, he was living in their porky sties, watching them eat better than he was. Pig Heaven this was not.
The Biblical tale has a teachable ending. Son #2 came to his senses, returned home and apologized to his father who was waiting for him with open arms. There are many lessons in this parable, not the least of which is how the son represents those of us in sinful rebellion who find ourselves living in less than God-honored conditions. All the while, our Heavenly Father wants nothing more than for us to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness so he can shower us with His love.
Like the prodigal son’s father, Hector is praying his daughter will return home with a new heart. No doubt, God loves his request. After all, He’s in the business of changing people. Author Rick Warren said it well: “God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds using time and pressure. He’s working on you too.” If He can do it to caterpillars and sand and coal, He certainly can do it for Princess…and for me…and for you.