This weekend I went to a wedding for Lindsay’s cousin. As I sat there with all of those lovely people around me, I caught myself thinking that this is my family, these people are my family. I think the thought came from Lindsay; we were driving up to Ohio and she looks over at me and says, “The other day I was thinking to myself that you and I are a family now. We are our own family.” Ever since that sweet little moment I’ve been thinking about my family, both newly acquired and the one’s I’ve had since birth.
The wonderful thing about family is the love that they give. I am lucky enough to have a family that, for the most part, believes in God. It is my belief that because of this love for God, our love for each other is so much greater. I can’t tell you how many times there have been when I just didn’t like my family, they did something to make me mad or I got mad all on my own (which happened more than the first), but through it all the love of God they have for me has been unconditional.
I was at a campus discussion the other night and the idea of “unconditional love” came up. Some people didn’t believe it was possible, others believed not enough people use it. I started thinking that I believe it isn’t humanly possible, but that is where my precious Savior shines through my filth. Even though I may not be able of seeing good in people or I may not be able to see past some minute part of somebody, God is in me and He helps me to see what He sees in us all. He tells me that they are beautiful, everyone is his beloved.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in that my family is so good to me. The family that I have had since birth are some of the most beautiful people I know. A song by Jason Upton called “Beautiful People” talks about family well:
Beautiful people… forgive and forget.
and eyes look like children, who haven’t lost yet
Entrust us the strength of their love
disarms all the powers… that separate us.
My family has seen me through the hardest of times, they have seen the absolute worst in me, the ugliest I can be and still they “forgive and forget.” It is truly a wonderful feeling to know that your family loves you unconditionally. No matter what happens, I am still their family and they still love me better than I should ever be loved.
And now God has been too good to me (like He always is). When Lindsay and I got married I inherited a truly wonderful family. These people are some of the most true people I have ever met. There is a beautiful honesty that can be seen in all of their eyes. I am a firm believer that “eyes are the window to the soul,” and a lot can be said about a person if you just truly look into their eyes. The Shaeffer’s eyes all tell the story of God’s love. With every look they show me His life, with every moment I connect with them in the eyes, I see a part of my savior looking back at me.
With an adopted family like this, one might think that unconditional love would need to be earned or would happen in time. That is not the case with this family, I have been accepted into the innermost parts of their community and they have treated me like I belonged there all along. I cannot say why I have been blessed with such a priceless gift, but I can say that I am truly humbled by the way in which I have been accepted and loved unconditionally by this family that truly is a reflection of God on this earth.
I continue to think about the family that I have and immediately realize that my “family” reaches far beyond blood and marriage. I have people who are recognized legally only as friends, but in my heart I’ve not known people who I love more. Darren & Mary Ellen Free have been God’s love to me and I dare not say they are not my family. I love them with a love that is not my own, but a gift from my Father. Joel Taylor is as close as a brother, and he often treats me better than one. Chris Holland has given me more than I can ever repay and through all of it has helped me reaffirm who I am in Christ. Along the way I have had numerous people who have spoken to me like grandparents, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, and to each of them I am blessed beyond words.
For me, family cannot be easily defined. I cannot even try to define it. All I can say is that my family is better than I deserve and I hope I can be half as good to you all as you are to me! I don’t say it enough but I love you very much!