Monday, July 4, 2011

Honor Thy Mother-in-Law (Part 1)

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Do not persuade me to leave you
or go back and not follow you
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May the LORD do this to me,
and even more,
if anything but death separates you and me.
Ruth 1:16-17
This passage is often quoted in tears at a wedding. It is a beautifully-poetic promise of lifelong loyalty. If you did not know the story of Ruth, you would assume that she was speaking to her husband. However, she actually spoke these words to her Mother-in-law, Naomi.

Years before, Naomi moved with her husband, Elimelech, and two sons from Judah to Moab in search for food. While in Moab, her husband died and her two sons grew up and married Moabite women. Within about 10 years, her sons also died, leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi decided to move back to her people in Judah because she had heard that the famine there had ended and there was food again. As she and her two daughters-in-law prepared to move to Judah, she strongly advised the girls to move back to their mothers' homes. After weeping loudly and embracing her Mother-in-law, Orpah turned back and went to her mother's home but Ruth clung to Naomi. 

She stayed.

Naomi said, "Go home."

Ruth said, "You are my home."

I want to take a look today at the importance of loyalty and honor to your spouse's parents and give you a few key things to think about as perhaps some practical ways to help. A large part of what you love or don't love about your spouse was shaped by his or her parents. If your spouse is emotionally healthy, thank them for the part they played in that. If your spouse is unhealthy because of unhealthy patterns in their upbringing, honor and loyalty could be a pathway to healing.

We'll visit some practical steps to establishing a good relationship with your Mother-in-Law in a later post. In the space I have left today, my Wife's birthday, I would like to honor my Mother-in-Law. 

Jeanne Karen Harrison Bruner Bodholdt, I can't fully put in to words what it means to have you in my life. I  want to thank you for the legacy of hard work, loyalty, responsibility, faith, hope, and love that you have instilled in your children and now your grandchildren. You scrimped when times were lean; lovingly making clothes for yourself and your children. You even made a beautiful wedding dress for Melissa. I'll never forget that dress or the way she looked when I first saw her in it just over 13 years ago. 

You've been incredibly generous in the not-so-lean times. You and Stan kept Melissa and me afloat in the early days and years of our marriage, especially when we moved away to Nashville and were struggling to make ends meet.

I am proud of your heart to heal the sick. You don't just treat their bodies, you reach out in the love of the Lord to touch their hearts. Your heart of service took you half-way around the world and you made a lifelong impact on people we may never meet this side of eternity. People enjoy you deeply when you're with them, miss you deeply when you're not, and love you deeply always.

That's certainly true of your crew here in Texas.

I'm so glad that Mark found you a couple of years ago. While he'll never replace Stan in our hearts, he is a treasured addition to our lives. I'm glad he gets to come visit so often and look forward to the years ahead.

So today, on Melissa's Birthday, I just want to say thank you for who you are and what you've done.

You've definitely raised a wonderful girl with whom I am blessed to spend the rest of my life.

CLICK HERE to read the follow-up post.

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