Prodigal Sons, Big Brothers and Beloved Daughters


We belong to a God who comes for us, who never stops loving us.

 {my graphics are free goodies for you}

I’ve read the story of the prodigal son. Most of us have. We know the plot well. The son rebels. The father waits. The son comes home. The father runs to him. But what I have never really noticed, what my anxious, try-hard heart missed in this story is the father pursued the older son too.

The older son is busy working hard in the fields when his little brother shows up. It seems big brother is likely the striver and performer, the perfectionist of the family. He has done his part. He has sacrificed. He has held it all together. This might be why he can’t make himself go inside the party celebrating the return of the prodigal. Because this is not the way he believes life works. In his world, you hustle for your worth. You trade effort for affection. You earn everything that’s given to you.

So the older brother stands outside, alone.

I have been there. I have lived this story.

That’s why what comes next is so beautiful to me. “His father came out and entreated him” (Luke 15:28). The word entreated means to ask someone earnestly. The father wants his son to come into the house, the place of belonging, into a space of grace.

The father has entreated me too…

“Holley, will you believe that I truly love you?”

“Will you trust that your worth rests not on what you do but what I’ve done for you?”

“Will you stop performing and rest in My grace?”

Then the father calls the older brother “Dear Son” (Luke 15:31). It is a reminder of his true identity. When we are hustling and working hard we can so easily forget who we are and how much we’re loved.

The father also says, “You have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). In other words, “Remember our relationship. Remember you have no reason to strive, nothing to prove.”

As I write this I’m almost undone by the tenderness of the father.

The story ends and we don’t know if the older son ever chooses to go in. But I know this: today I’m stepping back into the house. Today I’m choosing to belong. Today I’m going to believe what the Father says to and about me.

Sometimes people ask, “Are you the prodigal or the older brother in this story?” I always have trouble answering because I think we are all both sons—we have wandering hearts and work-for-my-worth hands. We are rebels and perfectionists. And, thankfully, we all have a Father who comes for us, who never stops loving us, who knows us even better than we know ourselves.

We are the prodigal son and the older brother, yet we don’t have to live as either. We can choose to live as someone else entirely different today, the role our Father wants most for you, me and all our sisters: Being the beloved daughter.

Holley Gerth

P.S. If you’re looking for a creative Mother’s Day gift, here’s an idea for you: Sponsor a little girl through Compassion International in honor of a Mama in your life. One of the best way to say “thanks” is to pay it forward, right? And when you do so through this link, you’ll get a gift too–a free copy of Fiercehearted! Changed life, Mother’s Day gift, a little something for you. That’s some fabulous multitasking right there.

P.P.S. If you know a high school or college student who is graduating this May, a woman with a God-sized dream who longs to bring glory to God as she lives with passion and purpose in the middle of all the crazy, this book might be the perfect gift!


Right now, we’re doing a special link-up series to celebrate Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely. You’re a fiercehearted woman so I’m asking you to pour out a little love and courage with your words every Wednesday {the link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post, especially if it’s about living fully and loving bravely, and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to to see all the fun and join in too.

When you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth!

{click to tweet that you’re joining me here today}

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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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