In-Law Week - Guest Post by Rachel Lonas
Today's guest post is by Rachel Lonas, a friend from my time at Bryan College. Much like Kim's post from Monday, Rachel describes a mother-in-law who loves her well with the love of Christ, even though she didn't fit the picture of the wife she initially might have chosen for her son. Once again, a testimony to the power of grace in the lives of two very different people.
There are so many reasons I could list my mother-in-law as wonderful. There are the packages she sends every holiday for our family, filled with funny handmade cards, family inside jokes, and small personalized trinkets. There is the transparency and humility she exudes that make her so relatable. As I said, I could go on for days, but as my husband and I approach our 7th wedding anniversary this year, I’ve been thinking about something more than just kindness and personal touch. I’ve been thinking about how thankful I am for her servant’s heart and ability to trust her son who chose me.
Though both from Christian homes, my husband and I came from very different backgrounds. Different schooling background, different family conflict management styles, different temperaments. It seemed like a reasonable case for “opposites attract”. We had become close friends in college, so we both wanted to date with the intention of getting married after graduation. Everyone on our small Christian college campus (professors included) were excited for us, which may be why my husband didn’t remember to communicate with his parents about how serious we were getting; we lived in a “bubble” and it seemed normal to us and everyone who interacted with us every day.
When my husband did tell his parents his intentions, they were taken aback, but I think his mom took it particularly hard. She still had two daughters (12 and 16 at the time) at home and her only son and oldest child just officially declared his intentions for complete independence and full responsibility for his life after college. He was adding another woman in his life that would be a role model for her girls. That’s a lot for a mom to take on all at once! I also think they thought (before I came into the picture) he’d find a homeschool girl from back home to marry and settle down and have kids to homeschool some day. And yet his prospect was a public schooled, strong personality who dyed her hair red and refused to even consider homeschooling! As I said, my husband and I probably seemed like an unlikely match if you just put us down on paper.
I know it wasn’t always easy for her to trust her son’s judgment (i.e. to see what he and others saw in me and know it was a part of God’s plan), but if there was distrust in her mind, it never showed up in her actions. Every time I visited with his family, she served me as the most honored guest and really tried to get to know me and love me well. I never once felt like I didn’t meet her expectations or that I was unwelcome, even when I know I exhibited immaturity. She gave me the benefit of the doubt and tried to encourage me spiritually through devotional books and personalized gifts. My mother-in-law showed Christ’s love and acceptance from the very start.
I believe her thoughtful pursuit of a strong relationship with her daughter-in-law, without trying to fashion me into someone I was not, was the biggest help to our relationship. Instead of constantly criticizing me (which I tend not to receive well) or giving my husband an earful (an inappropriate thing for any mom to do) when I needed work, she just loved me for me and trusted and prayed for the Lord to work in my heart. She saw me honestly striving to love her son well and how together we desired to serve the Lord. The more time I spent with my husband’s family, the more his mom took the time to see how to love me best (in the big and little ways) and I learned how to do the same for her. God has used our imperfections to teach each other much in these 7 years. We are so close now; it’s hard to imagine how different we seemed back then!
I look back and see how much I have learned from my mother-in-law and how she chooses to serve with the love of Christ. I have seen her serve her parents by taking them into her home and giving the most intimate care (even when it’s difficult, both physically and emotionally). I have seen her serve friends and children of friends. Her generous spirit, her sense of humor, and her desire to trust in the Lord when things seem very unclear are always an encouragement to me. God has already blessed me tremendously with my own mother who serves friends and family with open arms, but I am thankful for another “mom” who my daughters can also look up to as an example of Christ's love.