I recently had the opportunity to take a walk with and also photograph my old pal, Sam. Sam and her husband, Bryan, like my hubbs and I, are currently living with their parents – more specifically, his parents. Living with their folks has given them liberty to pursue careers and interests in a way that they might not be able to do otherwise, so although the situation comes with it’s struggles, it is very helpful. Sam shared with me that her in-laws recently wrote up their Last Will and Testament, and they included her in it as if she were one of their children. I asked her to please take a bit of time to reflect and write about what this recent display of love has shown her:
I always struggled with the concept of unconditional love and full acceptance in my relationships with both friends and sometimes with my own family. Like most who try to earn this love, I thought the integrity of these relationships was always contingent on my life choices or accomplishments. After my grandfather and great aunt passed away in the past few years, I took the time to reflect on how they had truly supported me during my upbringing despite some of our ideological differences at the time; how my mother had sacrificed time, energy, and funds in ensuring my well-being and a good education; how my father tried to provide or parent the best way he knew how. I always knew they loved me despite whatever disagreements we would have, but I was born into this family and almost figured that that was expected of a family if you ultimately do what was expected of you.
Until this season of reflection, I had always felt distanced in most of my relationships, seeking approval through my achievements. I had always known of the love of Christ for those adopted by Him, and until recently, only related to it as if I was still an outsider earning her way into an existing family. After my grandfather and great aunt had died, I felt overwhelmed by the love and comfort that my mother and father in law had bestowed upon me. I started to realize that since our wedding they had considered me as one of their own-protecting, providing, and supporting me as one of their own flesh and blood. It was never a question of should we include her in our plans or our family decisions, but it was assumed that I was already going to be part of them. I was already part of their family. It was then I truly understood Romans 8:15-17. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Their full acceptance of me despite my faults helped me understand that unconditional love that awaits those adopted as heirs of Christ. – Sam L.