Settling into Love Without Strings

by | Dec 13, 2011 | Uncategorized


“Mom, I need to get a fifteen dollar gift for the party on Wednesday. Oh and I need a twenty dollar gift for the party on Saturday and I have to make some cookies for the party at school for Spanish class on Thursday. The cookies have to be international and they can’t be store bought.  And we are supposed to wear a tacky Christmas sweater to one of the parties and I don’t have one.”

She rattles off the list and I feel the weight on my shoulders get heavy. Put my hands over my cheeks and close my eyes, take a deep breathe.

And when I open up my eyes, my mother-in-law stands there frozen in front of the fireplace with a rag and spray bottle in her hands. She extends grace to me, cleans the spots of the carpet, unloads the dishwasher, and sets the table for the staff party.

She is thinking about the cookies.  Then begins to offer recipes that she knows would work. Texts her brother for a recipe, scours recipes on-line. 

This morning before she leaves to fly back home, before she takes a shower or finishes packing her bag, she stands over the Kitchen Aid and a counter spread out with measuring cups to make those cookies.

I’m not used to people doing things for me.

As a latch-key kid of a single, working alcoholic mother, I learned early how to take care of myself.  I got myself up in the morning, made my own breakfast, put myself through college, bought my first, second and third car,  moved myself across the country to find my first real job.

When I married H he opened doors for me, had dinner waiting when I got off work, asked me if I needed anything before I went bed, thought about needs I didn’t even know I had.  It felt weird.  Someone thinking about me this way – kindness without expectation – a foreign experience I had to settle into.

And I still struggle with this after twenty one years of marriage.

Because when you grow up thinking that you are the only one you can count on, that the only way to find love is to achieve and perform well, unconditional love from someone makes you feel guilty. Like you should be doing something to earn it.

And every time someone proves that they love you with unselfish generosity, the protective bricks and mortar around your heart begin to crumble.  Because that way of loving is an extension of Christ’s love.  A glimpse of the holy that makes the body go limp, the heart beat joy, the mind let go and receive.

Unearned, abandoned, just because you are you, wild love.  Do you know this?

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

 Joining Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped, Bonnie at Unwrapping Jesus, and Michelle for Thought Provoking Thursday.  Unwrapping the gifts we often overlook in the common of the every day.  Because sometimes baking cookies is more than just flour dusted countertops and dirty dishes to do.


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  1. kd sullivan

    I’m glad God has shown you grace. He loves you. Isn’t it funny how love can be shown in such small things?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, and the way we give and receive love looks different on everyone because we all see life through a unique lens of experiences.

  2. kayehaun

    Hi Shelly,
    I just found your blog and I am thrilled. I so identified with your words today…so glad I found you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thrilled to connect with you and I am so glad to know my experience resonates with you.

  3. LuAnn

    I hear an echo this morning-a sacred echo. Experiencing-recongnizing and recieving-the love of God. Thank you for sharing your life, mind and heart I am encouraged and stirred up.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yay Lu! So glad to know you were stirred up today. Don’t you just love those sacred echoes? They are such a gift. And I remember sitting around your living room on your birthday weekend with friends talking about that.

  4. Stefanie Brown

    Thank you for your transparency. His grace continues to AMAZE me!

    I’m so glad we’ve connected.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Stefanie, you are one of the most generous people I have met in the blogosphere so far. I feel like a gift just dropped into my lap when you came to my blog. Merry Christmas to you too.

  5. Tara

    it is a foreign experience when someone steps up beside us, offering to take with them some of our load. so glad that you see the gift, and savor it…even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      In a way, I think it is sad that being authentically kind and generous is rare. But when I see it, it is obvious which is a gift. I am just so grateful that God put people in my life to show me what this kind of love looks like, feels like.

  6. Deidra

    Oh my word. This made me cry. I felt it all. Every single bit. Right now, my mother-in-law is in a hospital twelve hours away from me and my mother is a thousand miles away and if they were here – but they’re not. So thanks for this. Thanks.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Deidra, I know, oh do I know. We need our mothers don’t we? I haven’t seen mine in 13 years and my mother-in-law lives over a thousand miles away. We never get too old to need a mother. Love you sweet friend. Sending a big hug.

  7. Sandra Heska King

    I saw a glimpse of the holy here in your words. To let go and allow oneself to be loved and served. That’s giving love, too, I think.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Sandra, what a great compliment! And your words, what wisdom. Never really thought about that – our receiving love being a way to give love. So true. So glad you stopped by. Very grateful you did. Bless you.

  8. Lisa notes

    Oh this makes me feel good to read today. Love that is love for its own sake. What a special m-i-l you have who loves you so. I pray you will accept her gifts with ease (although I know I would have difficulty with it too!). God is lavishing his love on you through her.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I agree Lisa, he is lavishing His love on me through her. Has been for 21 years! I am so grateful for the way He answers prayers. So glad you visited me today.

  9. apesydaisy

    I think asking for help or even just accepting the help that others gives is one of my biggest struggles too. I am a single mom and have been single for nearly 10 years and I’ve become very self-sufficient, but sometimes I have to remember that God didn’t make us to be alone, but to be part of something bigger, that includes giving help and accepting help. Have a great Christmas!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I guess we can avoid rejection if we don’t give people the opportunity to give to us. But I need to be vunerable so I can receive all He has, not just what I think I need. Really glad you stopped by. Always a pleasure to find someone new out in the blogosphere!

  10. Renee

    I can so relate! Accepting love and kindness can make me feel vulnerable or guilty or both . . . Thank God He woos us so tenderly and puts people in our lives to give grace. Beautiful post!

  11. Barbie

    I grew up thinking I had to care for myself. And I still feel guilty when others do for me. When I try to sit still, I feel guilty for not doing something. I know I cannot earn His love. I should stop trying, huh?

  12. Faith Barista Bonnie

    Hi Shelly, I was a latch-key kid to a single mom too. She wasn’t alcoholic, but she had addictions to other things. I grew myself up too. 😉 Learning to receiving love is a journey of faith for me too! Thank you for your life giving words, poured out in the Faith Barista faith jam during a month we feel the brokenness of our stories most!

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