My brand new mother-in-law gazed at her son, now my husband. Quiet worry etched her brow, and I knew why.
Jim had confided to me, once, that his first wife’s infidelity and their subsequent divorce had caused him to consider suicide. It was only natural that his mother’s Mama-Bear instinct would be in overdrive today, as he took the plunge again. After all, that’s what moms do – they protect their kids.
The quiet rustle of my wedding dress drew her gaze as I came near and gently placed my hand on her arm. “I promise I’ll take good care of him.”
The smile on her lips didn’t quite reach her eyes as she responded. “You better.”
Jim was a package deal, and I became both wife and mother in one fell swoop. Jim’s son Derek was three when we married. In the early years of our marriage, Derek visited every other weekend, and at age ten, he asked to come live with us. It is amazing how becoming a mom rouses the Mama Bear that hibernates in a woman’s heart.
Jim and I were married fifteen years when my own Mama-Bear instinct was put to the test, and she now bore full-grown fangs and razor-sharp claws.
Derek had grown into a warm young man who loved the Lord with all his heart. He was our pride and joy. Then something unexpected happened.
He met the love of his life at a Christian youth event. Sara was fourteen, Derek, sixteen, when he found her “borrowing” someone else’s property and made her return it. Smitten, Derek was determined to rescue Sara from herself.
Even his ardent love wasn’t enough to quell Sara’s serious issues with authority. Her parents, unable to control her, finally sent her to a Christian group home for girls, in hopes that they could get her on track.
Sara completed her stay at the home for girls, and shortly after her return home, she and Derek rekindled their friendship. Before we knew what hit us, they were using drugs and having sex. We tried to reason with Derek as his senior year ended.
“Derek, you and Sara need to slow down. If you’re supposed to be together, she’ll wait for you. Go to college, get an education, so you can support her.” We sat at the kitchen table and pleaded with Derek to listen to us.
He shook his head stubbornly. “I love her. I can’t leave her.”
I slapped the table hard. “You can’t marry that girl! She’s no good for you. You used to be so different before you met her.”
With those words, Jim and I became the enemy. Derek and Sara were young and in love, and they were sure Jim and I couldn’t possibly understand that.
We were parents who’d been around the block a time or two, and we were positive they couldn’t understand that.
The chasm between us grew so wide that Derek left home. He and Sara married, and we just knew it was the biggest mistake of his life. We prayed for them; it was the only thing left for us to do.
That was the year 2000. It is now 2008. Their journey has not been without its hard knocks, but they are still together, and they are back in church. In 2006, they added twin boys to their family. Just last month, they added a new baby girl.
I called my mother-in-law to give her the good news.
“Hello?” She answered on the first ring.
“Hi, Mom. How are you?”
“I’m good. Do we have a baby yet?” I could hear her smile in the warmth of her voice.
“We sure do, and she’s a little sweetie. I’m so blessed that Sara asked me to be in the delivery room with her and Derek and her mom.” I gave a happy little sigh.
“Sara and Derek make good parents, don’t they?”
“Yes. Yes, they do. You know…” I paused thoughtfully. “You know, there was a time when I thought Sara was the biggest mistake of Derek’s life. Now I realize that no one could love him better than she does. She’s perfect for him.”
“God has a way of helping us to understand those things, doesn’t He, dear?” She chuckled softly.
I smiled, wishing I could give her a hug. We two Mama Bears had at last learned to entrust the well-being of our cubs to a source of protection much greater than ourselves – our heavenly Father.
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