by Leslie Johnson
God is teaching me that He is faithful no matter what I think or feel. My kids are seeing this firsthand through my life struggles. It seems that kids don’t always learn from us telling them what to do, but they certainly seem to watch and listen to us when we aren’t expecting it.
This past month has been a season of stress, chaos, and little sleep. Mark was learning a whole new mechanics industry, I was working four separate weddings, and the kids were going to and from summer camps. But, the real ground shaker was my grandfather dying. It wasn’t a shock – he had been in and out of the hospital for the past two years – but he went slowly which was a huge drain for the whole family.
As the time neared, family began flying in and tensions and emotions ran high. In times like this, even our best intentions are sometimes just wrong; and so it was for me when I suggested some special things for my grandpa’s funeral. Despite the fact that for the past two years I was the one visiting and caring for my grandparents, I was met with harsh words and a cold shoulder from my uncles. Though I was closer in age to my uncles than the other grandchildren, I was apparently not in the immediate family ‘inner circle’. This was particularly difficult because my uncles, though they live nearby, had refused to visit my grandparents because of heated emotions.
What did I do? How did I respond? Well, like a mature, good-little Christian girl, I walked away even though my feelings were hurt. But don’t congratulate me just yet; I didn’t even get to my car before my raw anger reared its ugly little head! How could they treat me this way? What right did they have to say anything? They didn’t even visit Papa on Father’s Day! The more I analyzed what had happened, the angrier I got.
Did I stop to ask God what he thought? No, because God has a way of softening my heart toward others. Sometimes I just don’t think they deserve it and so I just leave Him out of it.
Instead, I called everyone I knew just to tell them of my hurt and pain; to get some sympathy. I did try to share my feelings and patch things up through text, but that just made things worse. This went on for days. I found myself researching houses in other cities and states so I could just leave behind my unloving family. I confided in my husband but he just didn’t understand why I felt so extreme.
My family had really blown things up, and I was being blamed just for trying to help. I didn’t want my grandpa’s death to be all about me. I felt alone, unwanted, unappreciated, and just not good enough for anyone.
A few more days and my grandpa passed away. I found myself more relieved than sad. Relieved that the past two years of being bed bound was over for him. Relieved that my grandma could finally move on with her life and not have to be an exhausted caretaker anymore. Most of all, happy that this meant I’d get back to normal life soon; the drama had an end in sight.
With the family tension still in the air, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go to the funeral. But I did. And there stood my intimidating, six-foot-five, two-hundred-fifty pound uncle and I had no choice – I mean literally, no choice – it was as if the Holy Spirit threw me into his arms. We hugged for what felt like five minutes, apologizing to one another. He assured me that family is family – no matter what was said – all is forgiven. I felt so relieved and good inside.
It’s like that when the Spirit lives inside of us. As much as we may try to suppress it, if we truly love and seek God, the Spirit is there to help us. (It didn’t hurt that I had prayed, “God, if you want this fixed then you’re gonna have to do it yourself.” And so He did!
It’s still a bit awkward around the family, but I was able to speak at the funeral, be part of the service, and support them during this difficult time. More importantly, my children witnessed the faithfulness of God even when I did not know how to fix a bad situation. I pray that God and my Papa are proud of me and looking down on me and my family. I can rest assured that I am not judged for my sinful nature and that the Spirit of Christ will continue to guide me, and through me my kids, the rest of my days here.