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An Attitude of Gratitude – September 3, 2013

September 3, 2013

I have a confession to make. I’m struggling with gratitude today. I know why it is. I am angry and hurting and in pain. It is hard to be grateful when all you want to do is scream at someone, to throw things and to spend the rest of the day crying out in distress to the Lord.  It’s hard to be grateful when you see someone you love deeply hurting and can do nothing to alleviate the pain they are going through.  And with one word a member of my family deeply hurt more than four other members of my family, most especially my son and his fiancée.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to react to this.  I am struggling to not go off the deep end with this.  Maybe you can help me.  Maybe you have a suggestion. 

In 39 days my son will marry the woman he has been in love with almost from the very first time he set eyes on her 9 years ago.  She and I have had our ups and downs over that time but the bottom line is my son is deeply in love with her and I could not be happier.

The lovebirds

The lovebirds

The bride is beginning to feel the crunch.  Invitations finally went out with hand-lettered envelopes and she’s working on all the other last minute details.  She’s spending most weekends at her parents’ home, working to ensure it all goes smoothly.  I believe we will be getting together soon to work on the favors and seating charts once RSVPs are all in.  If you’ve ever been married you probably know how it is all falling into place.  You would think she’s in a good spot, right?

Let’s back up several years, about 25.  My ex-husband’s behavior had just been brought to light and, after a lot of counseling from my then-pastor, I finally decided to go ahead with the divorce.  I served my ex-husband with the divorce papers along with the restraining order I needed to get him out of my home and to let the children return.  I was bewildered and emotionally devastated.  My children were frightened as CPS had forcibly removed them from my home.  My family and friends were doing everything they could to love and support my children and me.  As the months and years wore on my ex-husband justified his making my life as difficult as he could by informing everyone that my oldest daughter and I made up the charges about him.  It didn’t help that he had frightened her so much that she was terrified to testify against him.  My mother was my rock during all this.  Well, my mother and Jesus.  Without my faith I probably would have ended up in a straight jacket.

However, my mother is a unique individual.  She holds onto grudges forever.  She allows the smallest things to lodge in her soul and fester and fester until she has been poisoned by the hurt and ugliness of it all.  Case in point, she and her older sister have not spoken in at least 45 years.  Granted, it is not completely my mother’s fault, but neither is it completely my aunt’s.  Anyways, when she found out the week before last that my son had asked my ex-husband to be one of his groomsmen my mother went ballistic. 

I know my ex-husband’s behavior affected my mother.  The fact that he refused to pay anything but a small portion of the court ordered child support kept the children and me living in near poverty.  My mother helped us financially.  The court ordered that the children’s visits with their father were to be supervised, one visit by a paid supervisor, the next by me.  I was to supervise every other visit so that my ex could be a “Disneyland Dad.”  Eventually he refused to use a paid supervisor and only visited the children when I supervised.  Wanting to foster a relationship between my children and their father I rarely refused a visit.  After all, they usually only occurred once every 2 months.  My mother and step-dad often accompanied me as emotional support.  I know she had reason to tell me “I told you so” over and over again, but she never did.  About a year ago when my son, his fiancée and I went to my parents house on an address hunting expedition my mother gave me a lecture about how I was to behave myself and not cause trouble at the wedding once she found out my ex was to be one of the guests. 

Sunday afternoon, just prior to the shopping trip my son, his fiancée and I had scheduled together, my mother and step-dad drove up from the town where they live.  They drove approximately 90 minutes to tell my son and his fiancée that they will NOT be attending his wedding.  My mother says she refuses to watch my ex husband walk down the aisle during my son’s wedding.  She refuses to forgive my ex.  Yes, what he did was unforgivable but forgiveness is not for the offender.  Forgiveness is for the person offended.  It releases the offended party from holding onto all the rage and anger and bitterness inside.  It frees them from the offender’s control over their life.  My mother cannot see this.  She refuses to see that her refusal to attend my son’s wedding hurts not only herself, but also my son and his fiancée.  It hurts me.  It hurts her husband who so badly wants to be there.  And it lets my ex continue to have control over her life.  She is destroying her relationship with my son, his fiancée and with me.  She is letting my ex win. 

I know my mother is in pain, too.  But this is not the way to relieve that pain.  It will only make it worse.

My gratitude list for today:

  1. Forgiveness.  It took years but I was able to forgive my ex-husband and release the control he had over my life.  Forgiving him didn’t mean I had to let him back in my life, it just meant I released the anger and the control he had over me.  I know God can grant that same peace to my mother if she seeks it out.
  2. Angel Island.  I went on a hiking trip to Angel Island with my biking group yesterday.  It was perfect weather and a good way to get away from all the current stressors in my life.
  3. My son and his fiancée.  On Sunday, after my mother dropped her bombshell, we went shopping for my mother of the groom dress.  Although our moods were greatly dampened we did have a good time and my son picked out a beautiful dress for me to wear to his wedding.  They even paid for it.
  4. The recent rains.  All the smoke and stuff from the recent wildfires was washed out of the air making it much more pleasant to breathe.
  5. I can recognize a Spiritual Battle when I see it and can step back and away from it for a while to avoid making it worse.  God has a plan in this whole mess with my mother.  I don’t know what it is yet, I can’t see what it could possibly be, but He has plans and He will bring them to fruition.

Dear Lord, please pour Your healing touch over my family.  Please smooth over the divisions and please remind everyone that in 39 days we are to be gathering together to celebrate the love and commitment of two young people.  Please do not let any of the very important people in my son’s life miss out on this day.  Give me the words I will need to say, the actions I will need to take.  Help me use this to further Your Kingdom.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN

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