Recently I have found myself drawing courage from a portion of my parents’ story. There was a particular difficult season for them when their personal and spiritual preferences were absolutely rejected. Some longings for family were deeply threatened.
This happened when one of their children joined the Mormon Church, then married someone raised in that culture. Over thirty years later my parents still have an open and positive relationship with that child and each grandchild from that marriage that ended in divorce.
In their unique position of influence, Mom and Dad faithfully prayed for their child and grandchildren. They kept reaching out by visiting, hosting, giving, and calling. My parents kept leaning into each relationship through that family’s pain and discord. What my parents gave their family and community was truly a supernatural moving picture of God’s kindness and goodness. They modeled incredible unconditional love.
I want to be like them. What will it take for me to “keep my love on” when close family members “do life” outside my level of comfort and desire? We’re sorting that out. Entirely new parenthood opportunities are suddenly on the horizon of our lives. Front and center in our minds are questions like these: What will we regret later should we choose to be threatened or offended in this situation? What could we gain should we respond with loving grace?
I think I’m getting a new picture of unconditional love from Heaven’s perspective. It is a humbling one. As parents we are seeking to honor and respect. We want to love through, around, and beyond whatever our family members choose. This is not easy. Mistakes have been made. In practical terms it looks like praying our heart’s desire to Jesus and avoiding questioning, challenging, cajoling, hinting, pressuring – anything driven by fear or pride.
One thing I love about my Wellspring community is the ongoing opportunity to hear numerous stories from others making similar thoughtful choices. Every one of us is battling for the hearts of those we love. Thank you for the courage to step into the light with your story! I am grateful for the ways you’ve leveled the vulnerability playing field with me, stepping out with courage and extending the invitation to hope.
How about you? In what ways are you being challenged to walk in a similar way? As you consider your choices, rest in the fact that through the landscape of your life, the One who knows you the best and loves you the most has loved you unconditionally. You’ve got what it takes to respond in kindness.
Kathy Stoltzfus is the face of Wellspring Group's women’s ministry. Kathy co-leads our women’s events and our facilitator equipping track.