I spent my years as a rebellious teen trying to ruin the only relationships that really mattered. I walked away from God to live my life of “freedom” only to be shackled by sin and ruled by bad decisions and I made sure that my family was my last priority. I told myself that they were the ones holding me back from true happiness and if they would just let me stay out all night and drink even though I was seventeen I would be happy. I told myself that they were the problem.
I put myself first in every decision I made so one Tuesday when my mom was sick again and she asked me to pick up my little brother I didn’t think twice when I got drunk instead. I drove home smelling of vodka and forgot to pick up my brother. So my mom with her 102 fever and migraine had to get out of bed and go get him herself. These were the kind of things I spent my high school years doing. I had parties when they were out of town, I refused to tell them I loved them, and when my mom really needed me I was too drunk to help.
They never gave up though. They never stopped believing that I would come back around. My brother always told me that God was going to use me for great things. My dad took me on dates when I was grounded for months on end and my mom would meet me for lunch when I was having bad days. Out of three brothers and two loving parents, no one gave up on me.
Then I found my savior at a Passion Conference my freshman year of college and knew I had some apologies to make. For the first time in years my soul felt free but I knew I had done a lot of wrong. I didn’t know how my family would find the strength to forgive me. There was so much to forgive.
When Christmas time rolled around we were all gathered around saying what we were thankful for and when it got to me I held my new bible that my parents had just given me and looked into the faces of the people that loved me most. I saw what we most often forget about family and I said the first thing that came to mind. With tears in my eyes I said, “I’m thankful for our family’s unconditional love.” My dad stood first and gave me a bear hug as I cried and responded with what they had always believed, “you were easy to love.”
It wasn’t until I looked back that I realized what second chance I had been given. My family lived by grace and knew that unconditional love was what God had called us to. Even though I didn’t deserve one ounce of their grace they let it flow freely, and when I came back around they embraced me as part of the family that I had always tried to run from. Five years later we are all closer than I ever thought possible and I am still most thankful for their unconditional love and for a second chance.