This week, my father-in-law had surgery. Over the years, I have not always agreed with him on a lot of things. I’d even go so far to say that I found him very abrasive when we first met. He was one of the “low dose” people in my life. You know the kind that you can handle in small amounts, but too much of said person can have you running for the door. I felt very lucky that he lived on the East Coast for the first 15 years of my marriage. The 1400+ mile distance between us was a pretty good buffer.
Eventually, the years wore down his abrasiveness. Either that or the years thickened my skin a bit. Or, a tiny bit of grace seeped into both of hearts and melted the resolve and the need to be right we both felt. I think that over the last 26 years we have grown to care for one another, even if we don’t always agree.
He rarely calls his wife dummy these says. He no longer calls my husband dumb ass or asshole. He does however still hold to some older views of women that I just don’t agree with. But I don’t have to agree with him to care for him. I can forgive him for the anger he directed towards women, his son, and his wife and finally see him for the child of God he is. He isn’t perfect, but neither am I. I found out long ago that the stronger my opposition to him, the greater he resisted my great wisdom and insight!
Provers 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I think this was a lesson we both had to learn. He was absolutely convinced he was right, and tried to bully people into seeing life from his point of view. But he was also very smart, generous, and kind in his own way; my offense just blocked my ability to see his good qualities. Likewise, I could be very stubborn and passive/aggressive if I thought that my great ideas were being overlooked when I was clearly in the right. We both had a large streak of “I’m right no matter what” in us that led to a sometimes rocky relationship.
I had to grow up and he had to chill out. And after visiting him in the hospital, I realize just how much I will miss him when God finally calls him home. Last time he was in the hospital, I spoon fed him ice chips while he tried not to move. This time, his wife did it. I think it is hard when a strong man begins to weaken and has to rely on members of the “weaker” sex to help him sooth his sore throat. I’m just grateful I have the chance to help him a little.
I have learned a lot from him over the past two and half decades. Things about how to hold a shot gun so you don’t end up with huge bruises on your shoulder and how to drive a tractor. However, the most important thing I learned from my father-in-law was how to love and grow in Christ. He isn’t the same bull-headed & domineering man I met in the early nineties. And I’m not the same idealistic & angry woman either. I have learned that it doesn’t matter how old and set in your ways you are; you can always learn new things. That age is just a number and a little tenacity can help you through even the most difficult challenges. I want to have his kind of gumption in thirty years. I am a much more patient person with him in my life.
All of this brings me to my second day of thankfulness (a few days late); I can honestly say that I’m thankful for my father-in-law and the unique perspective he brings to the family.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.