Becoming a Mother-in-Law of Grace
by Sharon Betters
The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
I try hard to be a mother-in-law our children enjoy having around. I thought I had a pretty good handle on my role but a very godly, wise woman farther along in life's journey recently showed me the meaning of sacrificing self in respect of a deeper bond than mother and child. Her fifty-five year old son was dying and his wife was speaking to us about some of his final wishes. We could tell that one was particularly troubling to his mother. Chuck asked her, "What do you think about this? I have a feeling you have a pretty strong opinion that's different from his." She paused and then smiled as she responded, "I could have an opinion, yes. But I'm not going to."
There was nothing in her tone that communicated anger or her desires should have had a greater influence. She had already expressed her concerns to her daughter-in-law, but now it was time to let her son and his wife have the final word. Her reply indicated her heart's desire to remove any unnecessary stress from her daughter-in-law who would soon be a widow. What a gift she gave to her son's wife.
I couldn't help but think of the many women who refuse to recognize the primacy of the marriage relationship, who will not keep quiet when decisions should be the responsibility of her child and his or her spouse.
During a few minutes alone with this precious mother, I commented on her daughter-in-law's earlier description of her singing and talking to her son as he lay in a coma. She quietly shared, "I told him he has run a good race, fought a good fight, and walked the path of faith - he has finished well."
I couldn't stop my tears as I said, "I picture you giving birth to your son fifty-five years ago. And just as you delivered him into this world then, you're now helping usher him back into heaven. What a gift you are giving by transforming your grief into a chariot that is helping carry your son into the presence of God."
Thank you, precious friend, for showing me how to live out God's sovereign love, even when delivering a child into the arms of God.
Being a mother-in-law can be challenging. Perhaps the biggest challenge is knowing when to speak and when to be quiet. My husband Chuck reminds me that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. God designed me to listen twice as much as I talk. My sisters call this the duct tape chapter of life. With my friend, may we learn when to say, “I could have an opinion, but in this moment I am choosing not to.”
Originally published in Treasures of Encouragement blog March 22, 2008.
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a non profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children and fourteen grandchildren.
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