“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Having personally experienced Agape ministry prior to attending the school on March 26-27, I came expecting God to meet me up close and personal. He did not let me down! The freedom that Christ gave me is in my relationship with my mother-in-law.
When my husband brought me home to meet his parents, my future mother-in-law made some very direct comments about what her hopes were for her son’s wife. Essentially, I was not the chosen one. I was flabbergasted; our relationship was off to a bad start. Over the years the offenses continued to mount. My husband encouraged me to talk directly with her about things that bothered me, but I found these conversations to be extremely frustrating. Offenses were never owned, only excused. Eventually I gave up trying. Twenty-two years later, as my husband and I, with God’s GREAT grace, worked to put our marriage back together, we took time to examine the impact the relationship with his parents had on our marriage, and what God would have us do differently.
Two years later she offered her apology, “If I have offended you in any way, I am sorry.” Since it wasn’t a matter of “if”, I replied, “Yes, you offended me. I forgive you.” In my human heart I wanted to air the dirty laundry list, have a good gut wrenching cry, and ask her at the top of my voice, “Why did you say and do these things?” However, God’s words from Matthew 6:14-15 were very clear in my mind, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I could not, not forgive her.
Working out a relationship with someone who does not understand their offences and therefore does not change their behavior is a challenge. Obviously the 7 x 70 principle is at work (Mathew 18:21-22). I think of it this way, in an episode of a home decorating show that airs on cable television, a brand new door was hooked to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged down the street in order to “distress” it, to make it look old and weathered. In that memorable conversation with my future mother-in-law, I became the door chained to the back of the Ford F-150 pick-up truck, never knowing when or if I’m going to be dragged down the street. When I am dragged down the street and the truck stops, I forgive again, but the bondage is not broken and the wounds never heal. You see, it’s always just a matter of time before the truck takes off again.
As health and aging issues take their toll on my in-laws, while I have the heart to care for them, I have never been overjoyed at the thought of having more contact with them. I came to this school, very tired and weary of this relationship, and without hope that it would/could ever change. In my session, God gave me the opportunity to verbalize those offenses, have a good cry, express forgiveness to my mother-in-law, ask God’s forgiveness for my sinful actions towards her, receive His forgiveness, forgive myself, and pray blessing upon her. Through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death. I am no longer a door chained to the back of the Ford F-150 pick-up truck. I am set free to walk in the light of God’s love, respond to my mother-in-law with God’s grace, and confident that God’s power will enable me to resist the enemy’s attempts to chain me back up (James 4:7). I have released her to God, with renewed confidence in God’s ability to bring about change where and when it is needed in her life.
By the way, I got to start walking this out on Resurrection Sunday. During the course of Easter dinner with my in-laws, several comments were made, but this time it was different. The FORD F-150 revved its engine a few times and when it took off, because of God’s great work that he did in me during my Agape session my anger did not rise, false guilt was held at bay, and my heart was filled with compassion. I waved good-bye and watched the truck drive away. PRAISE GOD! -Anonymous