It’s Mother’s Day in America! Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms world wide!
In celebration of all Moms, I thought I would share a post from 2015 when my life was changed through an unexpected experience with my Mother-in-law.
You Must Be Compassionate
A few days ago, my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip. She was utterly alone, and desperately needed help and yet no one heard her cries for over an hour.
She has lived a rather tragic life and has suffered a great deal. As a result of how she has suffered, she often struggles with choosing simple kindness. Born in Poland in 1938 right before the Nazi’s invaded, her parents died when she was very young; orphaned she was raised by her older brother. She met her future husband, a young American GI, and became pregnant with twins before they were married. Speaking very little english, she moved to America to start a new life. That new life was full of promise but much of that promise was never realized. Bitterness, sadness and hopelessness have instead ruled her life. She, probably without real intent, abused her kids and filled their lives with rejection. Those of us who married them have lived with the scars she created and have been wounded ourselves many times by her rigid and often cruel words. It has not been easy being her daughter-in-law. Especially when I’ve seen her rejection hurt my kids. Kicking her, and her attitude, to the curb has always been a far easier choice for me than loving her.
And, yet, when the call came that she had fallen, the first verses that came to mind were
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Luke 6:32-36
Ah yes. Knowing Jesus is not about being right or ruling over others. It’s not about being pious, or making people feel small like they may have made us feel. It certainly isn’t about repaying someones cruelty by being cruel. No, loving Jesus is about following his example, and loving even when it hard. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about sacrifice for his name sake.
As I drove over to the hospital a lot of things ran through my mind. Over and over again I thought about how Jesus was so tired and yet he looked out at the crowds and had compassion on them. I prayed that the Lord would grant me compassion for this woman who has brought many tears deep within my heart. And that is exactly what he did.
As I walked into the pre-op area, as I saw her so frail, broken and afraid, my heart flooded with authentic and inexplicable compassion for her. In that moment, I didn’t see her so much as my mean mother-in-law but rather, a woman who needed understanding. And, I could understand her feelings. So many times I’ve been the one laying in the hospital bed afraid of what was to come. So many times I’ve needed compassion, kindness and understanding. I know what it is like to be vulnerable and without hesitation, I was able to go to her, hold her hands, and listen to hear fears. Grace overflowed.
Late last night, as I tried to sleep I found myself reflecting on those moments with my mother-in-law. I’ll never know how they affected her. I do know however, that they deeply affected me. I am changed for the better.
Love won this week! Compassion won this week! Forgiveness won this week! There is no greater gift than being compassionate and loving someone especially when it is hard. It is a life changing choice that chips away at heart-break and hurt like nothing else possibly could.