December 2016, we were just a few days away from Christmas. The ‘Get Up and Go’, for the first time refuses to get up and go. Curtains drawn, lights off and covers over, he remains in bed. I open the door to the bedroom and the light from the lounge allows me to take in the pained expression of sadness etched across his face.
Concerned now, I ask “What’s wrong Love?”. His voice breaks as he pushes down the urge to cry with…”She doesn’t care and I don’t know if she ever loved me”. Confusion takes over. I first think it is health related but instead I figure out it is much worse. My husband is emotionally torn and I realize that he is referring to his mother. He then turns around , refusing to say anything else and I exit.
I then begin processing now. My mind racing through all the plans that have already been set into motion. We are moving to Austria. Leah is registered at the school. Naomi has a place at a kindergarten and I have sent my CV to Siemens Vienna. This is our last Christmas in Germany. Alex’s dad passed away at the beginning of this year. Alex’s health is declining. He then has this brilliant idea to get his mum to us for the holidays. For the past 8 years we have spent every holiday with his parents because his dad couldn’t travel. Now Alex is struggling to travel and desperately wants his mother to come to us this last time instead of carting the whole family to Austria yet again. Alex is sick, but he has always been mentally strong and so this change of events really upsets me.
The festering ugliness has erupted. She is fighting him and he is fighting her and these two stubborn people refuse to back down. Nasty words are being exchanged and his mother is now being plain mean. She is now placing more distance between an already strained relationship. Five minutes later, I walk into the bedroom again and start speaking. “Love remember that sermon by Pastor Furtick, the one where he speaks about his relationship with his dad?”. Now that gets Alex’s attention. He turns to face me now, all ears. He is a Furtick fan, the sermon podcasts boom loud from the iPad on an almost daily basis. “Yes!” he responds. So I continue, “Well his relationship with his dad was difficult, they were at loggerheads with Furtick trying to get medical assistance for his father but he was getting some backlash and firing every caregiver. Well he decided to do a list and write down all the positive stuff about his dad. It was a hard task but he did it. Why don’t you do the same with your mum?”
A couple of days pass and with that, Alex emerges from under the thick cloud of depression. He is still ailing physically but the life behind his eyes has been rekindled. He thanks me and runs me through some of the caring things his mum did for him when growing up.
I would love to say his relationship with his mum flourished after the list but the heated arguments continued. I even begged her to let him be, “Whatever Alex wants, Alex gets”…I told her. But this stubborn set in her ways lady refused to change her talk or attitude and with her one track mind still caused volcanic eruptions between her son and herself. I remember their last interaction before driving Alex back to Germany in May 2017. He drove into Austria but he just couldn’t manage the drive back so I took the train in to go fetch my husband. They argued yet again about something so frivolous before we headed to the car. That was the last time Julia saw her son alive.
In the last couple of days before Alex was released from his pain to Jesus, friends visited him and made an offer to drive over to pick up his mum. By then, Alex was unable to open his eyes or talk but his firm no was evident in his head shaking. I was in constant daily communication with his mum. She knew this was the critical final days yet she would not leave and make her way to us. The next time she faced her son again, he was ashes in an urn.
The last six months I have become more acquainted with this emotionally distant, bitter and stubborn lady who spews our hurtful words without much forethought. She lacks knowledge and makes ludicrous conclusions. “My son contracted cancer because he travelled to South Africa” she tells everyone or “He was too stressed and did everything by himself with no help whatsoever”. (Even after telling her I did it all). The last snide remark was two weeks ago. Leah and I sick with the fever and the flu yet we still made our way across for school registration. “You and the kids are sick because you are not giving them the proper nutrition”. With a blow to my parenting skills, I didn’t retaliate with words but my attitude toward her was pretty stinky and she got it loud and clear that I was not impressed from my one worded answers.
I am in a study called “I AM LOVED” by Wendy Blight. We went through the fruits of the Spirit this week which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I realize now that this current trial in the next chapter of my life is going to be living these fruits out with a difficult person. As believers we are called to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and the second to love your neighbor as yourself.
So here I am entering the arena again. It fills me with dread to have sealed the decision to move across to Austria. Plans have been set into motion. I confirmed my work contract in Austria as well as school and daycare for the girls. I know this difficult person is who I am going to spend my days with. However this is my journey, this is my responsibility…to love on her even when I think she is not deserving of it. This is me BRAVING it out. I picked up the phone two days ago and apologized for my attitude towards her.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
So with that I know I will be wearing my fruits of the Spirit bracelet on a daily basis to bring to remembrance how I need to react.
How does your current brave look like? I’ve been blessed through Proverbs 31 Ministries to cross paths and share stories with some of the bravest ladies. I get a ring side seat to their arenas and I get messy with them as they live WHOLEHEARTEDNESS in and through Christ. Some of the stories look like this…
-Courage to exercise and eat well
-Caring for the unlovable
-Dealing with a host of physical pains but facing each day
-Divorce and trying to live out a new normal
-Being in loveless marriage or trying to salvage a marriage
-The yearnings to be a mother
-Navigating through life as single mum
-Grief over loved ones
There is brave all around, and in you too! Do you see it? If you don’t, then it’s about time…