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Love with no Strings Attached

  • Alice M. McGhee
  • Published Sep 29, 2006
Love with no Strings Attached

I felt violated as the juvenile jail guard repeatedly ran his fingers through my hair and asked me where the metal object was. Most of the jail personnel were dressed in casual street clothes, but I got “Rambo.” The guard checking me into the visitation area was dressed in camouflage pants with the legs of the pants stuffed into his high-topped boots.  This was complimented with a khaki-colored t-shirt. Rambo was convinced I was trying to smuggle something into the jail. I tried to explain to Rambo that I had had surgery and a metal plate and screws had been placed in my neck. I told him the scar was on the front of my neck. He “wanded” me again. He finally decided to let me into the jail to see my son since he could figure out no other explanation for the beeping of his wand, but I knew he would be watching me.


That was by far the worst of the check-in experiences I had while going to visit my son. He was there for drug possession and a lot of probation violations. He just could not accept the right of anyone to have authority over him whether it was legal, spiritual, parental, or social.


He was in a medium-security facility, which meant it was not a fun place to be. It is a hard thing to be a Christian parent and go to a place like that to visit your child every Sunday afternoon. The first thing my husband and I did was try to figure out where we went wrong. His probation and parole officers both said we had done everything by the book. In spite of their reassurances, we knew we had made some mistakes in parenting him, but an awful lot of the mistakes were just plain his choice.


Sometimes it is hard to understand how living in a sinful world can touch our Christian children, even in spite of our prayers, but it happens. Satan is the Prince of this World (John 12:31).  He tricked Eve to disobey God right in the perfect Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6). From the point in history where Eve and Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, the rest of us have had to deal with living in a sinful world. Sometimes our children choose to make the choice of Adam and Eve – disobedience. However, 1 John 4:4 tells us “…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” God will give us the strength to stand up to Satan if we choose to do so, but we must make that choice.


One of the greatest pains a parent can feel is when a child makes a mistake that will hurt himself or another. As parents we do have a responsibility to teach our children “the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). When they reach a point where they know the difference between right and wrong (that may come at a later age for some than others), we as parents need to let the consequences of their actions take over. When the consequences hurt them, they hurt us, too. It is difficult to see your son led off in handcuffs and shackles. It places a hurt in a parent’s heart like little else.


As I prayed one day, I told God He had no idea what it felt like to have His child turn against Him and say he hated Him. Then my own words stopped me in my tracks. God knows exactly what it feels like to have His children turn against him. The children of Israel alone did it many, many, times. I have not been all I could have been for God. But, joyfully, He still loves me!


Unconditional love is what we read about in Psalms 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” A loose paraphrase of Romans 5:8 might read: “God didn’t come here from Heaven to save us because we were perfect people, but because we were sinners who needed Him.”


I have not been in jail like my son has. However, I have felt great pain because he was there. But I knew that when we adopted him we were merely stewards of his life. His being in jail was God’s way of taking over the parenting responsibilities because we couldn’t handle it. It didn’t mean that God loved him - or us - any less. In fact, it was a sign of how unconditionally God did love him. Through it all my husband and I learned how to love our son with “no strings attached.” Just like God loved us.

Alice M. McGhee and husband, Ken, live in Littleton, Colorado. Other than writing, her passions are teaching Bible studies, playing with grandchildren, and singing in the choir.