This past Sunday, many individuals celebrated Valentine’s Day. This holiday entails bestowing gifts, offering words of affection and love, and displaying acts of kindness to those near us. Whether involved in a romantic relationship or just expressing gratitude to a close friend—maybe even a complete stranger, love is a decision that all people can choose to demonstrate to one another as well as to receive.
Personally, as a young child, I greatly recognized this choice to love through observing my parents making a crucial but the best decision that would forever impact our lives. On August 25, 1983, while living in a suburb of Chicago, my parents and I drove to an agency where we would pick up the newest member of our family. Anxiously awaiting the “grand moment,” I played with a toy necklace while my father and mother eagerly chatted over the upcoming transition. Upon arriving to our destination, we reconnected with our assigned social worker and then strolled into a pale blue room that contained a crib, changing table, and an olive green-cushioned couch. Having already been granted my parents’ permission to be the first one to hold my three day-old brother, I scooted all the way back onto the sofa and stretched my right arm out onto the pillow beside me, preparing to embrace this little one for the very first time. Watching the “nanny” step away from the baby, my mother walked over to the crib, reached in to pick up my brother, brought him to the other side of the room, and placed him on my lap. Snuggling the infant close to my body, I just stared into his face and whispered my first words to him: “Hi, Andy.” This incredible milestone not only allowed my family to grow by one person numerically, but my parents’ acceptance of Andy taught me how family extends beyond bloodlines, including to those whom directly and significantly impact our lives and not necessarily those with similar heritages.
Having reflected on this event numerous times throughout my years, I have recently related this to our relationship with the Father—how He adopts each of us into His family and how He longs for us to love one another. God lovingly creates every living creature on this earth and desires to express this love through an individualized relationship with each of us. He does not discriminate nor abandon us, but He embraces our differences, yearning to walk alongside us on this journey of life and inviting every person to join His eternal family. Furthermore, 1 John 4:19 states: “We love because He first loved us.” In order to fully model the Father’s unconditional love, we also must love unconditionally—no matter with whom you interact. However, the choice is yours. Will you accept the Lord’s love? Will you seek ways to love Him? Love is a choice, and the decision lies within each and every soul whether or not to accept our Lord and our adopted brothers and sisters.