Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
- TITLE: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
By Sylvia Hensel
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Even though you have been gone for many years now, I feel a need to write you this letter in thanksgiving for all you taught me throughout the years that I have been married to your son. Tom and I have been through so much, good and bad. Who would have thought this marriage would last 58 years? We were too young when we married and had nothing in common. It was bad. So bad, that after just three months, you suggested Tom and I divorce. We probably would have eventually, except for the fact that my church forbade divorce, and I lived by their rules. Thank you for respecting that, even though you were hurting to see your son so unhappy. How strange, my church meant everything to me, but it didn’t keep me from being the terrible sinner I was.
You watched and prayed from the sidelines as we made a mess of our lives. You gave advice sparingly and without force. Thank you. You had so much wisdom, knowing if you had done otherwise, we never would have considered listening to what you said. Your words penetrated our sub-conscience minds more than anyone knew.
In spite of all the pain I created, you treated me with unconditional love, which always amazed me. I had never experienced that before.
I think back over the years and realize what an incredible blessing God had given me by placing me in your family. You and Dad were such a Godly example of Christian living in all you did. Dad and you prepared and distributed food baskets for the poor that he met through his job, and not just at Christmas. Your church family will always remember the Thanksgiving dinners you both provided to raise money for the various needs of the church and community. Not only did you provide the food, but Mother, you cooked it all. I remember you and Dad providing Christmas for a poor orphanage in the back hills of West Virginia. Also, the many people you took into your home to care for while they recuperated from illnesses. There aren’t enough words to tell of all the good things you both did that most were not aware of. All you did, you did with humility as Jesus would have.
I was shocked the Sunday you told us you had become a Christian. I knew Dad wasn’t, but I always thought you were. I didn’t understand as you tried to explain that going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian, it’s accepting Jesus as your Savior. To think, you both lived such a Godly life without really knowing Jesus personally. You told me good works would not get anyone to heaven. After I too became a born-again Christian, I was thrilled that Dad accepted Jesus just before he passes away.
Looking back, I don’t remember ever saying an unkind thing about either one of you. To me, there was nothing unkind to say. I always felt your love for me and it saw me through those horrible years when sin reigned in my life. Through your prayers and those of your church family, along with my sister’s, Tom and I came to an altar of prayer where we met Jesus, our Savior. That is when your church became my church and your people my people. It was so wonderful to attend services with you. I am so glad that you and Dad were able to see Tom and me reconcile our differences and become all that you had prayed we would be as a couple.
You mentored me in Christian living just by watching you and Dad. The old saying “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words” is exactly what you did. I watched and emulated what I saw and heard. Your lives were a picture of Christ on earth as He lived out His daily life. I learned to love because of your love for me. Our marriage is patterned after yours, and is working as yours did. You taught us how to give without expecting praise from others, how to love the unlovely and how to mentor others by how we live. I cannot imagine better in-laws than you and Dad. I am blessed to call you Mother and friend.
Thanks to your influence, Tom and I will see you both again on that Heavenly Shore. Until then, I remain,
Your grateful Daughter-in law
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