The Parable of



Luke 7:41-42



     Shannon and Nellie were as identical on the outside as they were different on the inside, yet their mother loved each of them the same.  At first, it was difficult for anyone to tell them apart, but as they grew older, they were easily distinguished by their personalities.

     Perhaps it was because Nellie was labeled early on as a “problem child”, that she became one.  When she persisted in asking “Why?” after dozens of questions in a row, her mother finally said, that she was not to say the word “why” for the next five minutes. 

     Nellie promptly responded, “Why not?”

     Her initial mischief stemmed from her innate curiosity, and an unwillingness to take “no” for an answer.  When she was five, she almost set the house on fire by playing with the stove.

      At seven, her temper began to manifest violently; she threw the TV to the floor when she was told to turn it off and go to bed.

      By nine, the rift with her sister was obvious.  She resented being compared to her twin, and refused to be dressed alike. 

     At twelve, her school troubles manifested.  She began coming home with failing grades and detentions.

     She began to use food for comfort, and her subsequent weight gain led her to diet fads which left her family unable to cope with her mood swings.

     Her mother coaxed and encouraged her along during those years, but Nellie became bent on a path of self-destruction.  Her self-worth plummeted and the situation deteriorated.  She refused to go to her psychotherapy appointments, and wound up dropping out of school and running away from home for days at a time.

     Her mother worried and prayed a lot during those years, and tried her best to frequently express her appreciation to Shannon for not getting into trouble, and at the same time express her love and forgiveness to Nellie, welcoming her back home after each episode, while enforcing appropriate consequences for broken house rules.

     After Shannon moved away to go to college and set out on her own, she always maintained her closeness to her mother.  They called each other frequently and enjoyed a loving relationship throughout the years.

     Nellie, on the other hand had an “on again, off again” relationship, not only with her mother, but also with the whole world. 

     Family reunions on holidays were strained.  Nellie dreaded wondering what everyone must be thinking of her.  She had a poor track record as far as her independence and stability were concerned.  She was always late for appointments, if she ever showed up at all.  She never held down a job for long, and suffered through extended periods of unemployment.

      The one and only thing Nellie could count on was her mother’s love.  Although Nellie took it for granted, her mother flooded her life with acceptance throughout her many ups and downs, and she encouraged all of Nellie’s endeavors.  However, slowly, subconsciously, Nellie was learning life’s most important lesson:  unconditional love.

     When her mother had a stroke, both Shannon and Nellie rushed to her bedside.  Eventually, Shannon had to return to her own family, and although she kept in close contact by phone, it was Nellie who was willing and able to tend to her mother’s necessities.  When Nellie first suggested that she could move back home to live with her mother, she was afraid it would be seen as freeloading.  However, it soon became apparent that her motives were pure.  Nellie set right to work making her mother comfortable, doing all the cooking and cleaning, and making sure her mother took her medicines properly.

      While her mother recuperated, Nellie decided to use the computer Internet services to go back to school by taking on-line courses.  From that point onward, Nellie’s life began to change.  She tapped into abilities she never knew she had, and her determination never wavered.  Without failing any commitment to her mother’s care, she was able to complete her education, hone her computer skills, and keep herself busy with work she could do from home.  The extra income she produced covered all of her mother’s new expenses.  She was able to buy her mother a motorized wheelchair and many other devices that assisted her mother in being able to return to an independent lifestyle.

     During these years, Nellie reflected back all the love that her mother had always shown her.  The rest of the family was impressed, and gradually the strained relations healed.  Everyone was thrilled to see both girls develop into patient, kind, friendly, compassionate women.

     With the love between the twins replenished, mother and daughter and daughter enjoyed a full-blossomed relationship with each other at last.   Shannon and Nellie both loved her with their whole hearts, yet who could say which of the girls loved her mother more?




     “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii’s, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.  Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”