I just finished skimming over my little blog, and I’ve gotta say I’m surprised anyone is still reading. I haven’t had much to say, lately. Maybe you don’t think I’ve ever had much to say, but if you had a good mother, you’ll keep those kind of thoughts to yourself.
It’s actually not that I haven’t had anything to say, but it can be hard to say everything you want to…when the people you want to write about actually read. Ha.
There is a kind of theme to my life, though. Especially lately, I guess. But I might have to back up a bit and tell you a story, first.
About a year after our first date, Papa Bear and I had our second date. Our second and third were the same weekend, actually. We’d become best friends over the phone, and so while he visited his family on leave for Christmas, he made a side trip to spend a few days with me (and ask me to marry him several times…no, Oprah, I don’t plan on letting that one go).
We had a great time together, but it did get a little awkward there toward the end. I was determined not to fall for him, and he was determined to make me feel pretty awful about it. When it was time for him to leave, I drove him about two hours away to meet up with his dad (who was living in Colorado at the time).
I can’t remember what we talked about on the way. That was nine years ago next month, so I guess it’s not that strange that I don’t remember. But I do remember what he said to me as we drove up the little hill over looking the Denny’s parking lot (where his dad was already parked).
“My dad is going to hit on you, just so you know,” a skinny Marine said with a little bit of embarrassment and a little bit of jest.
I, in return, said nothing. I did cringe a bit when I stepped out of the car in my pretty yellow sweater that made my then twig-like body appear almost curvy, and Kevin announced, as he leaned in to hug me, “Wow, you smell amazing!” Of course, I wasn’t wearing any perfume.
Less than eight months later, that man in the Denny’s parking lot became my father-in-law. And I, well, I became the worst daughter-in-law in the world.
Kevin pursued our new father/daughter relationship while my Marine was overseas. He called to check on me a couple of times a week, and he was one of those rare men who could talk for hours on the phone. I was young, and my husband was away. I’m sure I would have felt a little uncomfortable, anyway. But those words from that skinny Marine kept echoing in my cute, pre-babies, twenty four year old little ego ridden head. I like to take little things and make huge issues of them, apparently.
“My father-in-law is a dirty old man. Now what in the world am I going to do with that?!”
Over time, what little relationship my father-in-law had, crumbled completely. And when my marriage began to crumble, I had a very ready scapegoat for the habits and addictions that were doing us in. I knew my enemy wasn’t my husband (plus one for me), but I missed the importance of that point (plus one for the real enemy).
Have you ever heard a sermon on forgiveness? And during the sermon one annoying name keeps echoing over and over and over again in your head? Yeah, me neither.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that forgiveness is pretty much my message. But I’m now convinced that the area we think we excel in is often (at least for awhile) the area of our biggest weakness. Maybe I thought, because I’d done such a good job of forgiving in other areas, God would let me off the hook just once.
And maybe I forgot what a wretch I am? And maybe I was a self-righteous…
I’ve already written about my reaction to Kevin’s illness. I haven’t said as much since his death. I said what I needed to say to his mother, my grandmother. But what can really be said about sitting nervously on the front row of a funeral, sure everyone there knows you don’t belong?
…rubbing your hands raw under the dinner table, convinced someone will ask you to share your favorite memory of Dad?
“It’s one of those things we learn from,” said my gracious grandmother-in-law as she gazed into my tear-filled eyes.
“It’s the hardest lesson of my life,” I assured her. Then she hugged me, and eight and a half years late, I laid my “in-law” title down.
We categorize sin and pain. It’s a fun little first world past-time. And it would be ridiculous to assume that taking a thousand lives is on par (in consequence) to taking the Lord’s Name in vain. But it would be equally ridiculous to assume that Jesus’ blood is any less needed for the blasphemer than it is for the murderer. And it would be fantastically ridiculous to feel, though never admit, that my father-in-law used up more of Jesus’ [not quite] cleansing Blood than I did.
Maybe someone has done something terrible to us, or maybe we just think that they have. Either way, the deception lies in thinking that that grievance somehow touches putting a sinless Christ to death. In order to hold an offense, no matter the offense, our enemy requires that we diminish our own great guilt and thusly our own forgiveness. And our sins grows so great, the smaller we try to make them.
We like to say that Jesus requires forgiveness but not forgetfulness. Though, it’s on His forgetfulness that we so depend. And we might not be able to forget in the same way Jesus does, but we don’t have to make remembrance a hobby.
Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Just a few lessons I’ve learned from my father-in-law and my Dad.