Monday, August 13, 2007

The Harvest of Bitter Words

Galatians 6:7, NLT version, reads: "Don't be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant."

That is a timeless truth. I sowed seeds of bitter words. I am reaping a harvest of bitter feelings my family has toward my spouse and his daughter.

About a year and a half ago, when my husband and I had problems, my parents and sister and family heard all about it. My side of it. Not the spouse's. Not my bonus daughter's. My side. I used them as a sounding board to vent hurt feelings and get positive reinforcement that "I was right." They were very loving and supportive, as family should be during trying times.

They haven't forgotten the hurt feelings and now my relationship with my extended family is now strained. Extremely strained. This evidenced itself when my sister chose not to invite my bonus daughter to her wedding. I already knew the feelings were there because my grandmother, who has Alzheimer's, is the only one who "remembers" to ask how Kristyn is doing and when will she have her baby. I chose not to invite them to baby showers because no one ever asks about her unless I bring her up.

Now, more recently, I didn't go to my sister's wedding because of her rejection of my bonus daughter. We had talked a week before her wedding, deciding it was for the best that I take a stand for my family. She didn't want to invite my bonus daughter and by proxy my husband, understandably, did not feel welcome. I chose not to attend out of respect for my husband and his daughter. They are my family. They are me. Reject my family and you reject me. I had to take a stand for them.

Because of the bitter words I spoke about them, my family just really doesn't care for them.

Loyalties to me are strong and they have chosen to hold a grudge. They seem not to accept that I am right in allowing God to restore my marriage and moving on from the terrible strife that we went through. I have forgiven all hurt feelings and wrongs I felt were levied against me. I had a choice to make. Hold a grudge and dissolve my marriage or let it go and admit that there are things I was wrong about, too, and work it out with my husband and salvage our marriage. I chose to save our marriage. He is the love of my life. My soulmate. I raised his daughter from the age of 6 and love her completely and totally as if I had given birth to her myself. I cannot imagine having stronger feelings of love for her than I have. We were very angry and bitter toward each other but we chose to mend our hearts and relationship and are now close again.

The bitter seeds sown in the words I spoke are now being resulting in my reaping a harvest of hard times. It hurts. My father has now told me that he never got over "what my husband did to me." I never knew how he felt.

When you sow those seeds you don't expect that although you can forgive your spouse and move past the hurt and let God restore your relationships and renew your marriage that your extended family will never love your husband and daughter the way they used to.

My old nature wants to say that I don't get it. Who wouldn't be happy that we worked our marriage out. Who wouldn't be happy that we are not another statistic and we bucked the odds and allowed God to restore our marriage. The campaign against the spouse and his daughter seems awfully unfair, given that my sister's mother-in-law, his sister, and a relative of ours who did another family member "wrong" were invited.

This has caused me to totally made me re-evaluate my feelings toward my other sister. She has totally cut the family communication. I wonder if they did something similar to her, basically asking her to choose. I don't know.

I don't think I'm supposed to get it. It wouldn't matter if I got it. My family has to deal with their feelings. They are not for me to "get".

I think what I am supposed to do is just give it to God, admit that I sowed the seeds of bitterness through angry words and trust Him for the rest.

If my family refuses to accept them back into the fold as I have, then perhaps I am supposed to just gravitate on over to his side of the family, who released their grudge against me when they realized that my husband loved me enough to remain married to me. They heard things about me from his point of view and have not held a grudge against me. I'm sure while we were separated my name was mud, but they have totally made me feel welcomed and loved and accepted. Maybe from them I can draw on their love and forgiveness, learning from them in releasing the bitterness they felt and growing more toward treating others the same way.

My husband, bonus daughter and son-in-law and now my soon to arrive grandson are my life. They are my heart. They are my family. I am a wife, a bonus mom, a mom-in-law, a grandmother. When I married my husband I left my old family and formed my own. Forced to choose, they would win, hands down. My husband is my soulmate. My life. Of course I would choose him. Does that mean I love my parents and other family any less? No. It means God moved me into a spiritual union of marriage and motherhood and joined me with my husband to form my own family. I should add that my daughter is hurt by this grudge and all that she understands. I was completely honest with her in telling her that I said some pretty bad things. She knew. She said, "You used them as a sounding board and who can you go to if you can't go to your family?" She encouraged me to go to the wedding, as did my husband, but I didn't feel right about it. My husband and my daughter and I are One in my eyes. We are happy. We are committed to our relationship. We have no problems. We are happy people!

If they continue to reject my daughter and husband I will miss them so much. I will miss family events, but truth be told, and I may be saying this out of brokenheartedness, I'm not sure I want to be in a family that can hold a grudge that tight and that long. If I modeled that I would hate the world and wouldn't open my heart to anyone who wronged me or else I'd go bonkers trying to pick and choose who I selected to remain angry and hurt toward.

Interestingly, my mother, in the same breath of acknowledging that my daughter was not invited to the wedding, asked where she was having her baby. I told her. She mentioned something about bringing a gift to the hospital. What? Why? To see the baby? Nolan is not some cute puppy who will be put on display. You can't reject someone and then turn around and cozy up to them just to see a baby. She doesn't want them to come to the hospital for the same reason. Why make a show of not inviting her to the wedding yet come to the hospital to see her? Way too much to ask.

My prayer is that God will open their hearts. I pray God will help them sincerely show they accept my family. How am I supposed to know if they are faking acceptance just so I will continue to come to family functions or if they are sincere? Only God can tell me that. Only God can heal the hurt on both sides.

If they choose not to let go of the grudge, then I thank God for my true family, the ones who love unconditionally and care, even when I, in their own eyes, wronged their "blood".
The lesson I learned is this: Trust only a therapist to tell bad things about your family to. Keep family secrets secret. Then you won't go through the heartache and anguish I am going through now.

Update: 5/9/08 - I am glad to say that God has restored our family and all has been forgiven. My sister called about a week after the wedding and apologized for what she had done. She talked with my husband and with Kristyn and God was all up in that situation. Forgiveness abounded and my mother, other relatives, etc., have now made them feel welcomed back into the family. Praise God!