As a former prodigal this is a question I get often. Are prodigals really happy and moving on like they appear to be? It’s true that with some prodigals we see their pain, struggles, and battles with sin, depression, and anxiety, but with others, it looks like they are doing just great and couldn’t be happier.
As for me, during my time as a prodigal, I was not happy. I was quite miserable. However, my wife thought I was happy as I could be and moving on. From the outside looking in it looked like I was moving on with the other woman, and doing well in life.
What she did not see was the grief, regret, and remorse that I harbored in my heart. She did not see the severe depression and anxiety that plagued me.
For me, the other woman, the alcohol, all the weekend getaways I took, were all just ways for me to try to numb myself of the pain and to run from all my problems in life. I was trying to move on but I was not very successful with that.
I can’t speak to everyone’s experience, but I can tell you that there is no one who is happy, who has any contentment, or has any joy and peace in their heart outside of Christ. It could be that your prodigal spouse seems to believe in God, still goes to church, but if they are living in sin, such as adultery, they are deceived and do not walk with the true and living God. They have a form of Godliness, but they deny the power of the gospel.
2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, 4traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Tim 3
I believe many prodigals even lie to themselves about their own state of being. They deceive because they themselves are deceived. They lie because they have been lied to by the father of lies (John 8:44). I use to tell myself that I would get over this pain, grief, and regret in time. However, the Lord used that pain to deal with my heart and to reveal the broken spiritual state I was in and the brokenness of my family. I will tell you this. Even when I had myself convinced that I was moving on, late at night, when I was alone with my thoughts, lying in bed trying to get to sleep, my conscience and thoughts nagged at me. Memories of my wife and family would bubble up and my grief and sadness would overwhelm me. Things were definitely not okay.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
I encourage you to continue to pray that the Lord would open their eyes, and that laborers will be sent across their path to minister the gospel to them, and that they will come to their senses and to repentance. You cannot walk and live based on what you see, hear, or feel. There is much more going on behind the scenes that you simply can’t see. Don’t be fooled by false facades. Apart from Christ, there is no one in this world that has contentment or joy. Apart from Christ people are bound and blinded by sin. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn in by the lies and deception. Outside of Christ none are content.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Hebrews 13:5
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