NOW THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION
by Ramona Cook
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Once upon a time I had a sister-in-law who was viciously mean to me. She gossiped telling things she did not know and things that were not true. She goaded me at family gatherings trying to humiliate me, I never responded in effort to keep peace in the family. She continued her behaviors year upon year until finally I was consumed with hate for her.
Then came the time that I made a firm promise to myself that the next time I saw her that I would physically assault her giving her the best beating her oversized body ever had received: there was not in me any desire to kill her, only to beat her thoroughly.
The next time I saw her was at the annual family reunion. As I approached the gathering I was saying to myself, “Get ready sister because today you are going to get whipped.”
You must understand that I am not a violent person. I have never attacked anyone and never had the desire to do so, except regarding this abusive person. The truth is that for any of us, unless we handle the mistreatments and injustices done against us, by constantly forgiving the offender, we will build a hate within our hearts that will over-rule good judgment.
To continue my confession of regression: on that day before I could get the planned incident arranged, my sister-in-law announced that they were expecting a new baby. I looked at her and thought, “After the baby is born, I will deal with you.”
After the baby and she came home from the hospital I dutifully went with my husband to see the new family member. I recall that as my sister-in-law was walking toward her kitchen, I reaffirmed to myself that as soon as she had recuperated from the delivery of the baby I would get my justice on her flesh for all the years of her horrid treatment of me.
While she was recuperating I was at my kitchen table one morning, reading my Bible as was my daily habit, when I read I John 4:20.
If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen?”
Now that is a good question!
Quickly I began to talk with God about it. I told Him that I hated her for all the unfair things she had done to me and that I did want to inflict pain on her. I told Him that I confessed it to be sin but did not know how to be rid of the hate which I felt she deserved.
Almost immediately a poem came to my mind and while just reading it doesn’t sound so funny, I began to laugh and every time thereafter when she came to my mind so did the poem, and I laughed some more.
By the time my sister-in-law had fully recuperated I felt only a sad compassion for her. She had pushed ahead to earn her Doctorate in Education and I could see that she had not been rewarded the thing she had hoped for; she still felt like the poor little girl whose Mama made panties for her out of feed sacks. She did not feel like the Grand Dame she had thought she would. Her marriage was failing, her job was tremendously overwhelming and she was seriously overweight. She had so many unpleasant issues with which to deal.
God put forgiveness in my heart for her by displacing the hate with laughter at both of us, and then allowing me to see through eyes of understanding and then compassion.
Here is the poem:
My sister-in-law is a terrible snob;
and her sister-in-law will snob a snob.
So I guess in the end
both are snobs
but on a different level.
One snobs those she thinks as poor
and one snobs those she thinks a bore,
and to one there is no greater bore
than a supposedly educated snob.
So in the end it’s safe to say
that East is East and
West is West
and never shall they meet.
The truth is that my sister-in-law never changed. God changed my heart because I involved Him by confessing to Him that what I felt was sinful and my intended actions were sinful. He gave me understanding and compassion that changed my reaction to her deeds toward me.
All of it occurred because of the enlightenment of the Word of God and the question, “If you hate your brother, how can you love God?”
Now that’s a good question!
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