Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unconditional Love

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.


  1. I'm glad you posted this, Suzi. That is something I can't possibly comprehend. My family and I have had arguments, some of us (mostly me) have done some pretty bad things, and we are all so completely different you wouldn't even think we were family. But we have always, always, always been there for each other. That's just the way we were raised, and I am so happy for that.

  2. I love what my Uncle said to my cousin Terry, when my cousin gave his life to Jesus. Terry said to me, "I knew I was a dirtbag, I knew I had sinned, I knew I needed Jesus. But I just couldn't totally believe He would forgive me completely." His Dad just looked at him and said, "Terry, He *can't* not forgive you. It's not varied according to person because it's based on *His* character and *His* work, not ours." Love that. I love reading Hebrews because it helped me understand the purpose of a sacrifice for sins and a High priest who stands in God's presence as a mediator - and how Jesus became both for us.


  3. Thank you for this blog.

    I came to it by recommendation as a fellow colleague of five years suddenly had to leave our team. I didn't understand why. Everyone in the office had been fairly close with talking of the births of our children, celebrating little events in our lives, going to lunches together, bringing our various aged children to the office, admiring photos of our families and husbands, and then whoosh. She was gone. My last email with her was a memory of some great times together, and she responded that she would always remember those times also. My heart went out to her, and I hoped/hope that she is okay and safe.

    At that time, I knew she was Christian and attended an OC church and that was fine. Not until a fellow office mate mentioned that she was being called to stay at home by her church, did I learn where she went. (I guess I am the last to know, but everyone had been keeping her secret very well.) I find this blog interesting and very helpful. She is living her calling and following the values of her faith. I can't debate the truths on either side, but I so respect her decisions and honor her need for silence.

    For myself, I keep reading. What I see is Suzanne is healing. It is in the telling of our stories that we can make sense of hurt, pain, in some cases abuse or injustice. I left my childhood church as it had become too liberal. I had started searching at 20 and told my parents at 28. My parents were deeply offended and hurt, taking it as a great offense to the rearing and dedicated religious training we had received. They would not talk to me for a month, and then even after that it was the most basic of conversations.

    It took me several years to get to the point that I could tell them I was no longer of their denomination, because I knew they would react so swift and hard. And then, it has taken 15 more years to make sense of everything I was raised to believe, find answers, and now defend myself to them and my former church members that might see me.

    It is in reading Suzanne's story, that I see myself, my journey at a younger stage. I realize I have grown so much and realize that some of the pain is just the process.

    How did I recover . . . heal . . .move on? Lots of prayer. Lots of reading of my former churches tradition and history. Talking with others that were still in the church to make sure I was leaving for the right reasons. Talking to others that had left other churches of different denominations. Talking to those that were years ahead of me and able to look back. And then, to start to tell my story. It's a private process, so I am amazed to see Suaznne's so comfortably shared.

    Thank you Suzanne for taking the time to tell your story. It is how you are processing everything that has happened and helping you to make the wisest decisions forward. I can see that it is not you alone that are traveling this process, but that you are led by the Holy Spirit through much scripture and prayer.

    My prayers for today are for my former colleague . . . May God's grace shine upon her, and her little family.

    ~Sophia of OC

  4. I truly understand your feelings. In my faith we thoroughly study the Bible and come to know what circumstances call for "disfellowshipping" but that is not permanent. True repentence can lead to reinstatement, and that is tuly a happy time.And only serious wrong-doing---usually bringing hurt to others---apply.

    As for Hell, I do not fear hellfire at all. Ecclesiastes chapter 9 says that the dead are not conscious of anything. The God I worship would never subject his Creation to eternal torment. Simply put, the wages sin pays is death, but of course we have a Redeemer, Jesus Christ! I'm not trying to be "preachy" but am only giving a little food for thought. Stay strong.

    William Gary Garnes

    1. You are greatly mistaken, William. If you worship the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, you should know that He does not operate within the faulty framework of human wishes. The experience of eternal, conscious regret and torment is the fate of all who reject so great a salvation. You may choose to believe otherwise, neglecting clear texts that teach it is so, but you are begging for a losing argument to announce your belief here.

      Nobody would want to believe that such a punishment exists – or that any human’s evil could merit such a reward (except our enemies, of course) forever – but we don’t create reality. A humble disciple must not let one true aspect of God’s character (unfathomable grace) to steamroll another (pure righteousness).

      Consider that Satan and his angels are going to experience eternal sorrow/torment in blackest darkness away from the presence of God, and yet it is somehow unsavory to your sense of grace/justice that Almighty God would cause any human to experience the same. It is unreasonable to conclude that we are deserving of a milder fate than demons, especially when our desires are deeds demonstrate that we love everything but God. But the truth of this isn’t dependent upon reason. If you wish, we could debate the issue scripturally.

    2. "But the truth of this isn't dependent upon reason" That was very well put !!! William you would do well to take heed to that. If all men didn't spend an eternity in the torment of hell then God would be unjust. That would be like jumping off the empire-state building and saying I will defy the law of gravity. It will work for a little while until that sudden stop at the bottom. There is an eternity size difference between God's justice and God's mercy. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?

  5. Suzie, I remember the story of your mom and dads meeting, and marriage. I thought it was sweet, not to mention a little unorthodox. But your father was kind, and a perfect example of a successful conversion from a worldly person to a saved person. The act of finding a husband or wife outside of the church has long been rejected by its followers for many years. I'm not going to get preachy either, but there is scripture to back up this process. The mere fact that it's rejected is confusing, shouldn't we be happy for another entering the flock? I hope you and your family are well. Anon 1

  6. Unconditional love great title

    Goes along with the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus teaches us to love unconditionally. Love your enemy's,do good to those that do evil to you. I have family and so called friends still there, I long for the day that they are able to just simply be able to talk to us. They don't have to love me. But just to talk and have communication with them. But I do have to take responceability for this they are only acting the way I taught them, and that's the way I was also taught. So the cycle continues I never came to the knowledge of the truth soon enough to get out before my family was to old. But this rests on my shoulders.

  7. is the reason there is not many comments under this post because you are censoring the comments? i keep hoping to read more comments on this and there isn't much.

    1. I only deleted the comments about a family member (Chad) because he does not support this blog, so I will at least do him the favor of not publishing comments about him. By the way, some of the comments were pretty funny :)

  8. Where is the picture of your family? and what state is Karen in these days?

  9. I was asked to remove the picture. Karin lives here in Oregon.

  10. B.S. you removed that picture because how it made your family look. You took down the pic and removed a comment about how evil one of your family members looks and that you were flashing devil horns with your hand.

  11. anonymous your comment sounds stupid. i didn't see the picture of our family but i am positive suzi would not have posted a picture that looked like she was flashing horns. why would you care where i live? sounds like you are against the shumakers. one of our brothers asked suzi to remove the picture. suzi obviously wanted to post the picture. I support suzi writing this blog. this is her story, her memories and her way of healing and making a difference. when i was at my lowest in life suzi was a beacon and she told me it was because she accepted christ into her life. you dont have to like suzi or what she writes. this is her blog and she invites others to read and comment.
    suzi i love you and even though what you write I dont always agree with i know it is your story and i support you doing this.
    love your sister, karin

    1. I soud stupid??? I guess you have never talked to a Shumaker.

    2. Yes you do sound stupid, I thought you didn't care about any of them? What do you gain by making her family look bad?

    3. i am a shumaker. so yes i have and do talk to a shumaker every day.

  12. I followed a link from my sister on Facebook to your blog. Whether in philosophy or religion, the concept of unconditional love is not an easy question, nor has any definite answers. No one bible verse will ever satisfy those that seek the answer. It will take a lifetime of searching and eventual compromising to the best of your understanding.

    If love was unconditional there would be no need for repentance and redemption. There would be no need for law and judgment in our society. You wrote that your own only valid reason would be under rape or murder. This by itself establishes conditions to your own understanding.

    Keep searching and work towards inner perfection. In the end it is your relationship with God, the only true and just judge, to determine your fate. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    1. I believe that "unconditional love" is an unattainable fiction but I accept it as a commonly used buzz phrase for that ideal of matching the love God has shown us. Truthfully it is still a very conditional love, there are quite a few conditions that God has demanded from us for eternal salvation.


  13. i agree with darren. parents in general do show unconditional love towards their small children. by the time children are teens they put conditions or rules that would make the child feel love was not conditional. as adults we cant walk all over people and still expect to be loved unconditionally. it is a goal to be like jesus but no one that is here on earth can give perfect love.


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