In the warmth of what I now call home, I recall a poignant memory etched in the corridors of my heart: a beautiful American Girl doll, thoughtfully placed in a hotel bathroom, meant as a surprise for a little girl newly adopted. That little girl was me, and though my eyes recognized the doll of my dreams, my heart recoiled. Past shadows of conditional affection haunted me, making the doll not a symbol of love but a potential instrument of pain, a joy that could be withdrawn at the slightest misstep.
My journey hadn’t been easy. With a history of families that never truly felt like home, trust was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Gifts were not tokens of love but manipulative tools, and discipline was harsh and unloving, leaving scars rather than lessons. Accepting this doll felt like setting myself up for inevitable heartache.
However, time has a profound way of healing, especially when nurtured with unconditional love. My adoptive parents, vessels of God’s grace, slowly rewired my understanding of parental love and the meaning behind giving and discipline.
Embracing the Gift of Grace
With time, I understood that the gifts from my parents stemmed not from my behavior or attempts to earn them but simply because I was their child. This revelation was transformative, reflecting the grace of our heavenly Father, whose gifts are showered upon us not because of what we do, but because of who we are – His beloved children. As Romans 11:6 affirms, His grace is not based on our works. If it were, it wouldn’t be grace at all.
This understanding deepened my perception of Matthew 7:11, where it’s said that if earthly parents, despite their flaws, can give good gifts, how much more will our Father in heaven, in His perfect love, bestow blessings upon us? These gifts, I learned, are gracious extensions of His love.
The Grace in Discipline
Discipline, though, was a more challenging gift to understand. My past experiences painted discipline in strokes of fear and pain. Yet, my adoptive parents introduced me to a form of correction that, while sometimes stern, was always drenched in love and aimed at nurturing my growth.
This loving correction mirrored God’s discipline described in Hebrews 12:9–11. Just as we respected our earthly parents who corrected us, how much more should we submit to the “Father of spirits” and truly live? His discipline, though painful at times, is purposeful, molding us to share in His holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Understanding the True Gift
One day, when the doll, that symbol of unconditional love, was presented to me again, I saw the concern and love in my parents’ eyes. The doll was not a transaction; it was a gift, wrapped in pure affection. Overwhelmed, tears flowed as I embraced not just the doll but the love it represented.
This journey with my adoptive parents, filled with genuine gifts and loving discipline, became the lens through which I could see God’s workings more clearly. Their unconditional love became the living testimony of the grace-filled relationship our heavenly Father offers us. Through them, I learned that every gift from God, be it blessing or discipline, springs from His infinite grace and enduring love. It’s a love that invites us not into fear, but into a faith that is confident in the Father’s good intentions for us, always.