Monday, April 25, 2016

How Can You Call Yourself a Christian?

It seems like every day I see another example of hypocrisy.  Frequently, it's on the news: another candidate who claims to be a Christian is threatening all kinds of horrible things that he or she will do to other people if we elect him/her.  But often it is closer to home - much closer to home.

I'm speaking now of a Catholic family.  One whose children went to Catholic schools, who are ultra-conservative, and who frequently request that their Facebook friends pray for them.  But then, when their son died a few weeks ago, they published an obituary which pointedly left out the name of his wife of 20 years as a survivor.  Is this what Jesus would do?

Perhaps this woman did things that did not sit well with her husband's parents.  That would be understandable, since the son himself could never stand up to his father.  His wife, however, was a strong woman who did not suffer fools.  So, yes, maybe they are mad at her.  But isn't forgiveness part of the Christian doctrine?  Did their son not choose this woman to be his wife until he died?  Can they not respect that choice and give her the respect she deserves?  It is clear, in this final act, that the father still could not simply love his son unconditionally.

Oh, did I mention that the wife was the primary care-taker for the son as he dealt with the complications of a brain tumor, finally confined to a wheel-chair, and in a nursing home.  Thank God for people like her - not people like his birth family.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why Do You Have to Be So Mean?

My husband's brother had two children, Matthew and Melinda, while my husband chose not to have any.  So, my husband was always close to his nieces and nephews throughout their lives.  His nephew, Matt, had a brain tumor when he was 26 years old, and had surgery and radiation treatment at the time - which is now over 30 years ago.

Matt worked hard, got a master's degree, and worked for AT&T for many years.  He married and had a son, John.  As so often happens these days, they divorced and John went to live with his mother.  By this time, Matt's father hated the woman who divorced his son, and therefore he never had a relationship with his grandson, either.

At church one Sunday, Matthew met a vivacious woman with long dark hair and a smile that would make you happy just looking at her.  She was a single mom with two small children, and Matt was a lonely young man looking for a family.  They married and loved each other for over 20 years.  His father was now a happy man, seeing his son happy after so much pain, right?  Oh, no!  Dad was convinced that "she only married him for his money."  What money?  Matt worked a middle management job and probably was able to invest in a 401K, pretty much what everyone else was doing at the time.  Not going to become a millionaire like that.  And his wife's ex-husband took care of his share of the expenses for their two children, so it's not like Matt had to assume the entire burden of raising the two.

Eventually, a few years ago, scar tissue formed in Matt's brain at the site of his tumor surgery.  He began to lose function in several ways, and became unable to work.  His wife carried on, running the household, caring for Matt and her two children and working full-time.  She was the best caretaker anyone could hope for - she did what was absolutely necessary, but allowed Matt to do anything that he possibly could for himself.  When it became dangerous to leave him alone in the house, she found the best nursing home for him, close to their home so she could see him every day.

Matt's parents visited their son once a year.  His sister, Melinda, visited occasionally, but she had two daughters and a husband and a job at home in a far-away state.  A few weeks ago, Matt suffered a massive seizure and died.  Even though his death was unexpected, no one would have wished that he had lived longer and declined further.

Matthew's family is going to have a small, private service in their home town.  His wife intends to take his ashes up in the mountains where they spent so many happy hours together.  Matt's father and sister want to have another memorial service where they live, even though Matt hadn't been there for over 30 years.  Today they published an obituary for Matt.

The obituary praised Matt for being a wonderful son, brother, father, and uncle.  Wait, I had to read that again.  No husband?  Matt was married when he died, his wife of 20+ years totally ignored.  Then, the obit mentioned Matt being survived by his parents, his sister and husband and two nieces, and a son and grandson - but no WIFE!  How can people be so cruel?  I am so ashamed to call them in-laws.  They are out-laws to me.

Matt loved his wife.  He loved his step-children.  And they loved him.  We visited them several times and saw how happy their lives were.  The only thing tarnishing their lives was the disapproval and nastiness of Matt's family.  And now it continues even after that sweet boy's death.