While my MIL left a physical house, she also left behind a house of bitterness causing others to hide the property from Clint for four years. Knowing Clint and I wanted a restored relationship, they chose to manipulate our feelings by pretending to come around in an effort to sway Clint into giving them the house. From what has been shared, we know the hatred has now passed to their children meaning it has affected a third generation. The weeds of bitterness are so very easy to plant in another's heart, but so very difficult to pull.
When God led us to open the door to them, I sincerely thought the relationship was going to be rebuilt. I prayed for and envisioned a family working together for God's glory, supporting each other, and forming bonds so strong that they could not be broken. I sought and was given my family's support and cooperation. I had no idea I was being manipulated, of the secret plans they had for us, or how deeply it would wound.
If you can learn to love the person it would be so easy to hate, you will grasp more of the depth of God's love and will example more of Him to others. What if we find out the person we most struggled to love was the one who helped us most become more like the Lord? If all we had to do was love the lovable, godly love wouldn't be that meaningful, and it wouldn't be the struggle if often is. When you forgive the people who have done the unimaginable to you, you reflect His mercy.
As Christians, our wills should be aligned with His. God wants families to be whole. This entire situation with our family breaks God's heart, and that breaks mine. He deserves better than this from us.
While I am helpless to remove the bitterness in others and am discouraged by how things worked out with my mother in law, I can keep watch over my immediate family and root out the weeds of hurt and anger by encouraging them to love, forgive, and pray for the people who made themselves our enemy. I can pray God will keep Clint's and my hearts tender to His leading and full of compassion for them. We have forgiven them and moved forward with our lives, but God has been leading me to share this story as a lesson for others.
What the others hold against us are not things we did to them. Instead, it is what they believe we did to my MIL many years ago. We tried to share our side, but they told us they didn't want to hear it. We know for a fact some of those things they believe are not true because of what she confessed to us. Words and actions can build, or they can destroy. You make that choice consciously or unconsciously. Your words can sow the seeds of discord in others and reap a legacy of hate. They can start a chain of pain reacting to pain. Whether you start or continue the bitterness, you are robbing your family of blessings. This is another area where you can stand guard in prayer for the sake of your Father and your family. It is another area to keep careful watch over in your own heart.
Just like my miscarriages have helped me reach many other women who are in pain, God is compelling me to share this. My heart is grieved for what has happened with Clint's family, but others can learn from this story. My prayer is that through sharing, it keeps families intact and helps them let go of what isn't important to gain what is. I pray you feel the sincerity of my words, see through to the genuineness of my heart, and choose to build your family and leave a legacy of love.
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Luke 18:1 Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up.
Update 11/8/2012: Since I published this, I have heard from others who say it really blessed and helped them. Even while very discouraged about our situation, I can rejoice in that.