When I was in college, I fell in love with a leather backpack at a store downtown. It was everything that a leather backpack should be but it had this little defect; the one clasp wouldn’t quite close properly and the one strap was a few inches longer than the other. Minor defects, but still. It was marked, “AS IS” and when I approached the sales associate and asked her to lower the price of the bag, she politely said, “NO. The bag is as marked.”

And I really, REALLY loved that bag. So guess what, I bought it and to this day, I love it still. It is all tattered and worn and the one clasp still won’t close properly and the one strap is noticeably longer the the other, but I don’t care. I love it because it’s an old friend and has seen me on many a journey besides, it’s different and different to me is good.

My oldest son has a girlfriend and they have been dating for almost two years and we love her very much. When your kids grow up, you find yourself wondering about their future so you pay close attention to the people in the lives. Their relationship makes me think of my own with his father,  my husband, and how over the years I have tried to change him. I have tried to make him THIS when he was THAT and I realize I’ve done that on too many occasions to count. It’s a brutal realization but nonetheless, it has helped me learn how to pray for my son; that he would love his girlfriend, AS IS. 

I could have decided that day many, many years ago that that leather bag was not for me. I know it was just a bag, but it is probably one of the first times I remember consciously thinking to myself, “Is this something I want to sign up for?” AS IN, “Is this really worth the money?” because I was in college and was operating without a lot of cash. 

I wish I could adopt the intentionality of asking those questions on a regular basis but I’m getting there because it’s important to know what is and isn’t you. Not everything or everyone is for me and maybe if I’d take a moment to ask myself what and who IS, I’d be more willing to dig my heels in when the going gets tough, because the going always does. Maybe if I keep practicing embracing the “as is” in my life, I’d be more at peace and find joy outside of a fleeting feeling. Maybe I’d walk a little bit more free if I wasn’t so bogged down by regret or guilt because I said YES when I should have said NO.

Maybe. 

Because I want my YES to mean YES. 

Absolutely.

All in.

Without a doubt.

Till the end and then.

Friends, please make the time to intentionally ask yourself the hard questions like, “Is THIS something or someone I want to sign up for?” If you answer yes…enjoy the journey of learning how to hold them in your hands, open-hearted, not expecting or secretly hoping they would change, but loving them fully as is. If their clasp doesn’t close just right or their one strap is not the same length as the other…

If they never lose weight.

If they never get your jokes.

If they religiously leave their underwear laying on the floor in the bathroom after they shower and they often don’t make the bed and their cups pile up on the counter beside the sink.

Can you love them, all the way through?

Can I? 

We are free to be ourselves when we know we are unconditionally loved and accepted for WHO we are. When I think of what brings me the most joy in this life, it is that. Being me. 

And I am most myself when I love people right where they are at. 

“Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7