“It’s spring here; my flowers are blossoming beautifully. The apartment isn’t rented out because the last renters trashed it. But I’ll get down there and clean it…” I turned the note card with its flowery handwriting over, to look at the back. As usual, Pauline, my ex-mother-in-law, had affectionately signed off with “Love”.
Her endearing signature only made my inner struggle feel more impossible.
This may sound lame to anybody else, but for the umpteenth time I sighed, and then argued with myself about even answering it. “Why continue this relationship?” I whispered to the Lord, “It’s been so long since the divorce.”
“Because you are friends.”
Were answering words that filtered into my mind thoughts impressed by the Lord or simply my overbearing conscience? To continue this friendship might rob my ex-husband’s current wife of her rightful place in my former mother-in-law’s life.
Pauline and I were friends first, in-laws second.
I’ll never forget meeting Pauline, a bright perky lady with a singsong voice that seemed to hum even when she spoke. Yet single, she still runs the same Christian singles’ group for those over forty years old in our home town. At that time in 1990, I also ran a local Christian single-mom’s group.
We, as two tenacious single Christian women, got caught up in a joint project with a local Army Chaplain that year. She and I were given the dubious task of “filling” a brand-new million-dollar military chapel dedicated to singles.
After a few months of Herculean effort, the results were discouraging but enlightening. We realized what we should have from the beginning. It seemed God meant for Christian singles to mix with “normal” people, not to segregate themselves.
The defunct mission ended, but conceived our friendship.
Pauline was the one who introduced me to her son. Eventually when he chose to walk not in the footprints of his Heavenly Father - but went astray like his earthly Dad had once done, she soothed my wounds. When our marriage deteriorated toward divorce, she held my hand.
Strong, staunch, fair-minded. She remained my friend.
Is it right to give her up to relinquish my “title” to the current aughter-in-law? After all, aren't some friendships only for a season; doesn't being a true friend sometimes mean letting go?
The questions rankle in me as they have for months now, and will continue to do so until resolved. Now - if I recall, the Bible says, "No temptation has overtaken me that is not common to man..." There is a good chance someone else out there is spinning the same threads over this issue, although maybe for different reasons.
I'll think I'll pray about it a little longer.
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