Grief when my parents died and a difficult father-in-law. Two very different problems but I found that one solution, prayer, healed them both.
--- Copyright © 2003 Jan Jacoby
My husband had been having problems with his father for many years which resulted in some deep-seeded resentment. Like my husband, I believed him to be a tyrant who was a control freak. Since we lived so far away, we were both relieved that we didn't see them often.
He got very angry and said hurtful things to both me and my mother-in-law. No matter what I did, it displeased him, and he wouldn't hesitate to tell me. We also had a few very unpleasant and heated arguments.
Flashback to an earlier time when I was dealing with a different parental problem. Within 6 months of each other, my mom and dad both passed away.
I was very close to my parents and here I was, at 36 years of age, feeling like an orphan! An empty, hurting feeling welled up in me.
Yet even during these dark days, I sensed a distant light of hope. I had been learning about the spiritual nature of God and man from a book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy; learning about the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God and of my identity as the child of God.
For instance, I began to understand that God is always with me, and I felt His fathering and mothering qualities comforting and caring for me. I saw that, spiritually speaking, everyone is God's image and likeness. When I thought of my parents I saw that they each expressed some of those lovely spiritual qualities that can come only from God; qualities like strength, integrity, compassion, tenderness, comfort, and joy.
I began to gain a tangible spiritual sense of my mom and dad's true being. Some how I knew that my parents always had been and always would be with God, and that nothing had really happened to their true identity. The ideas in Science and Health comforted me to such an extent that within a few days of my parents' passing, I no longer grieved.
Flash forward to the stress of dealing with my father-in-law. It took a few years, but I began to realize that it wasn't "Dad's" responsibility to love me, but that it was my responsibility, as it was with my own parents, to see him the way God sees him. I had to recognize that my father-in-law possessed those same spiritual qualities, even if they seemed buried under a gruff exterior.
In Science and Health, Eddy writes a provocative statement: "When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders from man's normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns."
As I did this, I began to see Dad as God's man, including the Fatherhood of God, as being loving and lovable. And I started appreciating all the beautiful things about him-- his continuing activity at a rather advanced age, his love for his wife, (although it wasn't always obvious), his singing in a quartet at his church and his love of God.
Over the last few years, our relationship began to blossom. I began to see a real attitude change toward me. I was beginning to feel that we were actually friends. One day Dad actually apologized to me for something he had said. My husband thought that was the first time he had ever heard him apologize to anyone for anything.
And another time he asked me to help him plant a tomato plant. All I did was hold the plant; he did all the work. But I could feel his tender love for me, his daughter-in-law. He even started smiling when I would give him a goodnight kiss on the cheek. I also noticed that my husband began to enjoy our trips to visit his parents. He even looked forward to them!
Four months ago, my father-in-law passed away, but not before he and my husband had the sweetest exchange of words. And I know that my husband now knows that his dad loved him very much.
At Dad's memorial service family and friends were asked if they'd like to share a few thoughts about him. So I had the opportunity to share how my relationship with Dad had grown in grace giving God the full credit for this healing.
On top of all this good was another healing! A lingering feeling of competition and a strained relationship with my mother vanished in the light of all I was learning.
There were lots of lessons learned in these experiences. But maybe the biggest was that underneath each problem is the false notion that we are somehow cut off from God and from expressing God's qualities. That's something I now realize I don't have to believe!
--- Submitted by Valerie Minard --- New Jersey