Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Making Amends

Something exciting has been transpiring over the past few months. In December, we invited Joe's step mom up for a visit after over two years of no contact with her. What happened to warrant a disconnection from her is a big long story in and of itself, which I have often alluded to on this blog. We basically were hurt repeatedly by negative attitudes, unwarranted judgment, and hurtful words and actions, and we found the only answer we had at the time was to stop talking to her indefinitely. We were at fault in ways but we didn't know how else to deal with the situation because we couldn't see clearly in the midst of the chaos. We were failing in our marriage and to add the stress of figuring out how to deal with any outside force was no match for that. It was a tough decision, one we felt we had to make for the sake of our marriage but not one we'd ever want to repeat.

During that time, as we prayed for healing and understanding, we came to a place of taking a leap of faith and really placing the situation in God's hands. It's been an arduous journey. There was a huge part of the past two years that we knew we should try to make amends but were too afraid of being hurt again. It came down to a lot of debating, a little coaxing and some time of letting go of those fears in order for my husband to agree to try.

The visit in December went really well. I know we all felt a little nervous but it seemed like things worked in such a way that the kids felt comfortable, we felt comfortable and it all seemed to flow nicely. After that, his step mom and I started to rebuild our relationship by talking through email, though it seemed my husband was still a little hesitant of things moving forward and has yet to talk much to her. There was so much that had happened and a lot of hurt in the past but being as I am a little further ahead in my faith when there are difficulties in our lives, I pressed on, determined to make it work this time.

The Lord has worked slowly but surely in this process and our path in this journey seems right. It probably will be some time before all those fears are completely gone and trust is restored 100% but I feel confident in His purposes for our relationship with her. It has me thinking about the every day small miracles that can occur. In the beginning of the two years, we were pretty sure we would never see or talk to her again. Not necessarily because we wanted that, but because we thought things were irreparable. In that time of adjusting and brokenness, we weren't really considering what God might want for us in this situation. Our hearts were fearful of doing anything but cutting ties indefinitely and moving on with our lives, putting all our focus on our marriage and family life.

One important thing I did, even as we cut ties with her, was apologize for any behavior I contributed to us getting where we ended up with her. I meant it, too. I couldn't believe things had deteriorated that much to bring us to that place of disconnection. It really broke my heart. I have always felt it is very important to apologize when I know I've hurt someone or not acted as I should. A heart-felt apology shows the other person your love, it helps place a foundation for change and amends, and it aids in the cleansing of your soul. Another thing I did was to eventually forgive her for the hurt she caused. It's difficult to do this when you don't get an apology but it's important nonetheless. It frees you to heal and move on; it gives the other person grace, it brings you an amazing peace and a strong connection to the Heavenly Father Who is the Ultimate Forgiver. He forgives us even when we haven't yet said we're sorry. He bestows grace upon us when we finally confess our sins to Him, cleansing our souls of our transgressions.

Even though our hearts began to soften to the situation a few months after our decision was made to disconnect from her, it still took a little time. When the dark clouds had moved out and we could see clearly again and breathe like we hadn't before, we knew that things could not continue this way. For the remainder of the time, it was in the back of our minds working its way slowly to the forefront. God used that time to heal our hurt (mine especially), to work in my heart and to remind me to pray. I didn't always but I tried to remember as often as I could to pray for my mother-in-law and for the situation. He also used it to strengthen our relationship as we made great and sometimes painful efforts to get it to a place where nothing could affect it so negatively again. The outcome is a huge testament to God's work and His plans for our lives. If we have willing hearts and a conviction to do what's right, serving Him by loving others who might be a little difficult to love, He will bless us. I see that time of struggle and prayer as a definite blessing as I look back on it now. This time of rebuilding our relationship is also a blessing, and I hope for the blessing of a close bond with her sometime in the future.

Amends isn't just about saying you're sorry. It's about making things right. It doesn't always include hashing out details of the situation, but that is often a huge part of it. For us, it didn't seem to need to be though at some point in our journey there might be things that need to be resolved; questions we have or feelings we need to get out. But the journey we are on is so far a good one. I see so much that has changed in her as well; God had also been working on her in that time and the changes He has made in both of us has allowed for the path to not be as difficult as I had thought it would be.

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