Yes, we're in Week 2 of "In-Law Week," but there have just been so many great guest posts I wanted to share. Today I'm featuring a post by my friend Kyle Castro. I love his perspective and story of finding grace and love in his in-laws, and how this reflects the bigger picture of the community we can have in the body of Christ. Hollywood lore shapes and defines more facets of our daily lives than we are likely comfortable admitting. From sex appeal to our choice of gum-Hollywood is putting its lens over your eyes. When I’m engaged in conversation and the word “in-laws” is mumbled, instantaneous discomfort stretches over me. Funny enough, as you will later read, I have a lovely and rare relationship with my in-laws. So why is it that even I, a man with such extraordinary familial circumstances, shiver at the subject matter? I often think of the classic comedy Meet The Parents (I think you do too). I think of the unfathomable cruelty that Robert De Niro’s character puts his potential son-in-law through. The slapstick comedy Son In Law also comes to mind, capturing the awe stricken fear of your beloved daughter bringing home the strangest, most unlovable human being you can imagine as their supposed significant other.
Although these films are some of the most hyperbolic examples, they portray real life struggles. These struggles often stem from overcritical first impressions which can regrettably become the flawed foundation of a relationship with your in-laws. Sadly, some families consider it a resolution to “come to terms” with the fact that there will always be differences and settle on saving face with one another. It’s certainly true that the term in-law doesn’t need Hollywood’s help when it comes to negative connotations.
I want to take us away from Hollywood now and to the body of Christ. My relationship with my in-laws has shown me that although there aren’t entire epistles in the Bible about how to interact with your in-laws, it’s a perfect opportunity to love and act as a redeemed body for the cause of Christ.
My relationship with my own family is non-existent. I was raised in an environment contaminated by alcoholism and abuse. The status of my family has only digressed since my getting married. We don’t travel to see one another on holidays. We don’t call. I’ve spent most of my married life creating a layer of defense between my wife and me and my family. Although this is difficult, God has also given me a second chance at family. I feared this concept before our wedding. I saw the bond of my wife and her family played out in so many ways and all I wanted to do was hide mine. Of course there were initial concerns about this “Kyle Guy.” In fact, my name was Caleb for the first month or so of our dating relationship. That was actually my best friend’s name and my mother-in-law confused the two consistently. Those times would eventually pass. As the wedding approached, I began to see the early fruits of a meaningful relationship with my in-laws.
It’s comedic when you compare the two families. My in-laws fear the Lord. My father in-law is an elder at the church. The more I got to know them, the farther from home I felt. There were small patches of time where I didn’t know if I could fit. I looked at my past compared to my wife's. How is my past going to interfere with this seemingly “perfect” family?
Those fears are long gone and there are no perfect families. Families are comprised of sinners. The difference is Christ. My in-laws aren’t perfect, not even close. But you know what? They know Christ is perfect and that his righteousness is the standard. That realization defines our relationship. The love my in-laws have for Christ has driven their love for me. After the initial shock period when I began dating their daughter, I saw them welcoming me into their family. I have never questioned their love for me. I look forward to spending time with them and seeing them at church on Sundays.
It’s important to establish this is not replacement. I’m not the kind of guy that will call my father-in-law “dad”. It’s not a fashion statement as much as it is taxonomy. It’s important to distinguish who’s who in your family. My father-in-law’s duty is not to replace my father. That being said, he’s shown Christ’s love nonstop. He and my mother-in-law are servants who love the church.
The point of this is that when you act as the body of Christ is called to, your relationships with your in-laws can defy the stereotypes. This doesn’t mean to let your guard down when your daughter brings home that guy with the tattoos who has a funny accent and wears too much cologne. As leaders, men should be protecting their daughters. My family is such a great example of how you can extend the servant attitude and the relentless love of a Christ-centered body of believers into your relationship with your in-laws. My family history has left long, ridged scars. Somehow, through God’s grace, I get a second chance to witness how a broken, regenerate family operates and loves one another. You may want to think about that the next time your daughter brings home that Aqua Di Gio ensconced, tattoo-covered guy with the backwards hat (after some healthy ridicule of course).
Kyle Castro is a Nashville musician and active member of the local business community. He and his beautiful wife Renee are members of Community Bible Church Nashville. Kyle enjoys writing in the realms of fiction and business. @kylecastrooo