Thoughts on Life & Leadership

A Junto Strategy Project

Rachel Canning & Lessons in Forgiveness

rachel-canningThe story of 18-year old, Rachel Canning, has been all over the news. For those who were not keeping score, Rachel sued her parents for her tuition and for a bunch of money to pay for college. If you want more details on the story, here’s a good link).

The reaction to Rachel’s action was quite negative (and that is putting it mildly). She was called spoiled, a brat, and other names I won’t mention. Commenters on blogs and Facebook posts said she needed to grow up, get a good boot to the rear end, or to have her parents just walk away from this ungrateful, pathetic excuse for a person.

But today, Rachel and her family made the news again because Rachel has decided to return home, no strings attached. The reaction from what I’ve seen is still mostly negative about this little “brat” of a girl who needs a real dose of reality. Others have noted that they wouldn’t be so forgiving.

As I read the reactions to this new story of Rachel returning home, it hit me deeply the connection to this girl’s recent escapades and the story told by Christ about a certain young man who also no longer wanted to be under the “rule” of his father and went out into the world. The New Testament notes that he spent his time in riotous living and blew through all his money. While the story does not say this, it would not shock me if this son’s father heard of his ill-advised choices and the judgmental words of neighbors about how the boy was raised and what a spoiled brat he was. There may also have been one or several enablers of the son’s poor behavior who may have even encouraged him to push his dad to give him more money.

The story continues. At a low point, this prodigal son “came to himself.” He had a change of heart and was humbled by the things he had endured. He decided to return to his father’s home; no strings attached. As he was nearing his home, the son’s father spotted him and, realizing who it was, RAN to him, put his arms around him, and kissed him. But this was not all, the father even threw a party for him to celebrate his safe return.

No doubt neighbors and friends remained critical. The story even notes how the other brother did not like the reception of the son who had forsaken the family and caused deep hurt and embarrassment. But what if all of us were a bit more like the father, ready to forgive, ready to love, ready to celebrate the safe return of “him who once was lot, but now is found.”

I am profoundly grateful to Rachel’s parents, who had every right to be bitter but instead chose forgiveness and love for their daughter. It has caused me to reflect on my own relationship with my children and commit to be a bit more forgiving, a bit more patient with the faults and shortcomings of others and much more quick to love. In short I am grateful for a wonderful living example of what it means to be Christian and for the reminder that to be the recipient of forgiveness (something I am constantly in need of), I must be ready and willing to forgive.

3 comments on “Rachel Canning & Lessons in Forgiveness

  1. momocular
    March 12, 2014

    I hadn’t heard this latest update and am so glad to read it. The Prodigal Son is a fitting analogy. I hope that this family can move forward and are able to ignore those who are wagging their fingers (those whose business this is not).

  2. Sandi
    March 12, 2014

    Great article!

  3. Daniel
    May 10, 2014

    This was a very good article. To be honest, I do not appreciate her entitled behavior, and I certainly do understand where those commenters are coming from. However, under no circumstances would I say any of those nasty, disgusting or vial things about Rachel, no matter how much of a “spoiled brat” she is.

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