I know both queens, the MIL’s and the DIL’s may be reading this, but I don’t want to get hate mail from the DIL’s on this. Don’t freak out on me, young DIL’s and don’t have a melt down. I am really writing to the mother-in-laws, so if you are panic prone, or if you were up all night with the baby, or if hubby was in a less than wonderful mood today and you are on the brink of hysteria, look away. Don’t even read this until you’ve spent hours in the sunshine with birds singing all around and until you feel like making the full twirling motion in the meadow like Maria from The Sound of Music.
Because I’m removing a safety net that lies between you (the DIL) and her (the MIL). And the removal of that net may directly affect you, or it may not. I’m going to ask her to not burn a particular bridge that has been more popular with these older queens than when they burned their bras. And I think throwing away unlit matches is scarier than tossing flaming ones.
Now, tenured queens………………
You remember the Walton family and the TV show? It was a good show and ran for a long time. It was strong on family values, individuality and overcoming hard times, personally and nationally. The time frame started in 1933. Before Social Security. And Grandma and Grandpa lived with their son and his bride.
I have a giant book called “The Timechart History of the World”. It’s huge on impact and quite large in actual book form. There are sixteen giant pages filled with a flowing chart of civilizations, rulers, and empires. 1933 is on the final page of that book. Not just the final page, but the last half of that last page, leaving fifteen previous pages to show the dwellings and recordings between humans. And the genius of the Social Security plan did not exist on any of those pages.
People worked until they couldn’t work anymore then they lived with their families and dwelled with them for their last years. That wasn’t a new concept. That was the normal. And sometimes it worked out beautifully and sometimes it just didn’t. For lots of reasons.
But now we have something new and something better. We pay all our lives into a system that (coughs) saves our money for us and when we retire we get some back every month to be used to supply our needs. And if we don’t die youngish, and after we can’t stay by ourselves anymore, we’ll transition to a home where the caregivers will get the money we earned and saved and we take visitors when hours allow it. It’s what it is. It’s what we’ve come to expect.
I don’t want to be political on this. I want to be spiritual.
We’ve been actively building bridges that move us further away from our families in our old years. We’ve been weaving a safety net with money and letting politicians save parts of our income to guarantee we will be self sufficient until we die. God removed this bridge from me and from untold millions of people throughout history. Even today, many people who have answered the call of God to go and serve, laid down their financial security, and followed Christ. It doesn’t matter how progressive or how business like the Church tries to become, there are untold amount of people who serve God without pension plans, 401(k)’s, and retirement options. They do what the millions have done, simply count it loss on this side of eternity.
But people like us learned something important. The queens of missionaries and pastors learned that much of their dignity will lie in the hands of others, mostly the daughter-in-laws. Whether we like it or not, God has placed us in a very vulnerable position. We do not have Social Security, retirement, or a pension plan. We live hand to mouth, and it is literally God’s hand to our mouth. We aren’t foolish people. We aren’t stupid people. We aren’t lazy people. We understood the cost to follow Christ when He called us to a small rural work. Ministry here does not resemble a business in any way. To the world, we’re screwed. And to most, it is unacceptable that God would require this or that we would agree to it. I admit, sometimes the ways of God are foolish looking- turning cheeks, forgiving trespassors, giving mercy if you want mercy. Hard stuff.
But I think the playing field between you and me is getting a quite a bit more level. You are not guaranteed much more security than me in this day, for all your saving and planning. Have you seen the news? People in every state for every sort of reason stand to lose their financial future and security. They are coming to find out what some have known all along. There is no security. In one signature from a leader, one filthy and wicked politician, one natural disaster, every bridge built by money or the promise of security stands ready to burn.
And yet the bridge we’ve been burning over and over is the one between us and the young queens. We will work to our death to save the financial security bridge and we will hack away at the timbers on the relationship bridge without a thought to the family being the original and intended source of care giving.
What I know is my behavior is affected by money, and by lack of it. Strip away a security to pay my way through a home and I will behave like I don’t need my daughter-in-laws. Remove from me a plan that doesn’t calculate Christ into the future and I will take less notice at the promises of God regarding behavior and reapings and sowings.
All I ask is this- if you lost everything for your future and were entirely dependent on your children, on your son’s queen, to take care of you in your dotage, would you change anything? Would you be kinder? More respectful? Would you give mercy more because you will need more mercy? Will the promise of reaping what you sow bring you peace or will it snag itself on the emotion of regret in you?
You are very blessed if you have been able to plan and work for your future by the strength, opportunity, and job God has given you. And I am just as blessed here with no plan or ability for my future but a total reliance that if I love my family well, and particularly the daughter-in-laws who would care for me, I will be taken care of.
God stripped away my options when He called me to this missional life. Options to build good sturdy financial bridges burned like the burning bush and He magnified my need and privilege to build a better bridge- to the queens.
The Walton life is not so far from us. It’s closer than ever. The” Depression Era style of living” show is reality for most of the world and has been for the fifteen and a half pages of my book.
There is a lot of power with in my hands and my words. I’ve been a queen for a long time. I’ve got a lot ways to wield it. So do you. Just burn the right bridge if you have to burn something. Don’t burn a relationship bridge banking on the financial one remaining secure. Because it won’t. Things built with money don’t last and they don’t work the best. It’s not the perfect plan.
And if you are in ministry like me, and you weren’t given a financial safety net, let’s free fall this together. Don’t let Satan twist God’s incredible and forceful command that we leave everything, every option, every security and follow Him- and make us afraid. There is no fear if we love well.
Dear Krystle, Shaina, Amelia, and my Yet To Be Named Queen,
It is hard for me to know that the cost of following Christ so completely has left me in a place I may need to rely on your grace and love. But I cannot regret it all, because I see what God did. He removed excuses and options I could make to build bridges away from you, rather than to you.
I would be content with a little room in each of your four homes, staying a week in each one. I would read to your children and tell them funny stories. I would do your dishes and make you tea if I could. I would sing songs and I would put my hands on your head when you cry and tell you to not be afraid. And then I would tell you the lifetime of stories and miracles God did for me and reassure you He will do them for you.
I will share my herbal folklore knowledge and save you lots of money and help you keep the good bacteria count high so your household remains healthy. (ha) I would ask God to make me a light in your home, to add to your light that pours from your walk with Christ. I would do all God reveals to me to make your home healthy as well as your bodies.
And when I can no longer stand because I am so feeble, and when God takes away my sight, and when I can no longer do much more than take up space and take up your time, I will lay there and I will pray for you with all my heart. I will thank God for you loving my sons so much that sometimes it cost you. I will thank Him that your are beautiful mothers with hearts that will lead your children to God rather than scare them away from Him. I will ask this Father whom I know so well to help you with your hard burdens and your pain, and your decisions. I will praise Him for His plan to make us friends and for you to love me enough to be near when I cross over and see the Savior first of all.
And if this is the way it all goes down, and Aunt Mo and I don’t get to become Bingo Queens of the senior center, if I have no options but to live under your cottage roof, then I will say I have been more blessed than others.
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