I received this question and situation this past week while online. I thought it would be a great way to kick off the week here at ‘Ask Pastor George’. I personally believe that this is a rampant problem within the Christian community. So without any further hoopla, let’s get into today’s question.
I’ve been struggling with how to deal with my daughter-in-law She’s been cold and distant for a while. Barely civil. She’s acting like her mother who had a reputation in the area as a ‘cold bitch’. I don’t know how to deal with it without being the bitchy mother-in-law. What suggestions do you have for me?
I was so upset this morning at church I had to leave. I was sitting by my son and he hasn’t even contacted me to see if I’m okay. I am sure it is because of his wife and her attitude.. I’m so down right now, I don’t know what to do. Can you help?
Let me start by saying I do have a couple of suggestions for you. I also have prayed about your situation and think I know what is at the heart of your feelings in this matter. I plan to address them both.
First let me say that I don’t know everything about your situation. I am only getting your side of this and would not contact your daughter-in-law if I could. So I am only able to deal with what the LORD has showed me along your side.
What you are struggling with mostly is- how do you deal with difficult people in your life? Especially if they are in your family. My answer is two fold. One: let me suggest that you get a copy of the book “The Love Dare”. It is a great resource in reaching out in love to those who are difficult to love not just spouses. You read and act upon its suggestions geared towards your daughter-in-law. At the same time ask God to let you see your daughter- in-law as he sees her.
Second: What you are really struggling with is a situation that a lot of Christians, even myself, have and do still struggle with– the sin of unforgiveness. That’s right, unforgiveness is a sin. I say that because it is one of the few commands that Jesus actually gave while he was on earth. We find the command first in Mathew 6:14&15. These two verses tell us not only to forgive others, but the consequences if we don’t. If we forgive others who wrong or sin against us ,then God will forgive us when we wrong or sin against HIM. If we don’t forgive others, HE won’t forgive us either. That in itself is scary when you think about it.
IF that passage doesn’t scare you I suggest that you read Matthew 18:32-35. This parable, in answer to Peter’s question on how often to forgive, scares the pants off me. At one point in the parable, the king turns the servant over to “tormentors”.That word is translated everywhere else in scripture as demon’s. Then in verse 35 Jesus says if we don’t forgive others, His Father will not forgive us. This is why unforgiveness leads to such unrest and torment for believers. You have legally opened a door in your life for demons to have the right to torment you. The fruit of unforgiveness is, first off, torment that grows into bitterness. Like any sin, or like untreated cancer, it spreads until it has completely taken over your life.
If forgiveness is a command, then we must realize that it is something we choose to do. You don’t wait till you feel like forgiving to do so. You choose to forgive. Having said that, let me offer a little exercise that I have found helpful in my own life, for choosing to forgive others.
- Make a list of those you need to forgive.
- For each person on the list give specific things (wrongs against you) that you need to forgive them for.
- Pray the following Prayer: God I choose to forgive ___________ for __________ because it made me feel ______________. (Be specific in your feelings. This will allow God to sooth them and help you to heal faster). I give the feelings to you God. I ask that you Bless ___________ now with your love and mercy. Also God, fill me with your love and compassion for ________. In Jesus name, Amen.
- When those feelings of hurt try to come back to you, realize that it is a demon trying to get you to open the door for him again. Make the statement aloud, “I choose to forgive ________. That is now in God’s hands not mine.”
- Take and mark each name and offense off your list as you pray about them.
- Destroy your list. I usually suggest making them a burnt offering to God. But however you do it, destroy the list completely.
You may ask how will any of this change my daughter-in-law? It may not change her at all. Repentance and life changes are between her and God. However, I promise you and anyone else who does this, it will change you. Your feelings of resentment and bitterness will turn to feelings of love and compassion. Plus, who knows but that your Christ-like love might just be the thing that does change your daughter-in law -and anyone else you feel resentment towards.
This I do know– it will make you feel better and help you to cope with any situation better. Plus, you will be following a direct command of your LORD and SAVIOR. You can never go wrong doing that.
Until next time, know that I am praying for you,
copywrite May 2012 by George McVey