Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Christmas day, 1994, Randy and I were home alone. Our first Christmas together. Twenty miles away, my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews were celebrating Christmas. I didn’t expect to be included. I had made choices, and I was aware of the consequences.
We had shunned my sister, Karin, when I was in eighth grade. But we didn’t really shun her – not completely. My parents never shunned her. My brothers didn't speak to her for years, and I treated her like she was leper. But a few times a year my folks would take the younger kids (my youngest older brother and I) to visit my sister in California. And her kids. I loved those kids - still do.
Then the family shunned me, because I married the wrong person. I was twenty-one. My parents didn't shun me because I did the exact same thing they had done – Mom married my dad when he was a worldly person - but I wasn't included in the holidays that first year. Anyway, I didn’t do anything shun-worthy and my parents were smart enough to know that. My brothers eventually let me back into their lives as well.
My oldest brother left in 1999 and then my other two brothers and my parents left. We could be back together. Sort-of. Because two of the brothers were moving to Idaho. And there were years of hurt feelings and strain left in our relationships.
We weren't raised to give love unconditionally. We weren’t raised to believe in unconditional love from God. God would love us if we deserved it. But my folks loved us even though we didn’t always deserve it. My parents understood unconditional love despite that place.
I have my entire family and I love them unconditionally – though the strain is often still there. I am so glad to have discovered that Jesus loves me despite my sins. I am worthy because of Jesus. That is good news people.
I still fear Hell. I still obsess about it. I have been battling these thoughts and fears the past thirty-some years. They don’t just go away. Sometimes I have peace and sometimes I do not. I understand what the Bible says about grace, but those legalistic tapes from the past rear their ugly heads to put doubt into my mind. A friend pointed out to me how unreasonable my fears are.
She said, “That’s like saying to your own kids – I will only love you if you’re good, but if you’re bad, I will throw you out in the back yard and burn you to death.” Would I do that to my children? Never!
Think about how much you love your little children. God loves you MORE than that. Do you have loved ones you are shunning? If you, do, please think about if God would want you to treat them like that.
I’m so grateful for my family. We’re not perfect – but I can call up anyone in my family and they will take my phone call! They will give me the time of day. The only valid reason I can think of for shunning someone is if they raped or murdered someone I loved. Seriously. If you want or need me in your life, I will be there. How sad that not everybody can say the same about their own children, parents, siblings, and cousins.