Every family is different, and I realize that, but I never dreamed I’d find myself at odds with my husband’s mother like I am. The woman just infuriates me. Her overbearing claim to control every aspect of our life pushes me to my limit.
The good Lord knows I’ve spent many days begging Him to give me the power of wisdom and understanding to deal with her. Still, Saloma Raber is like no other woman I’ve ever met.
The mere thought of her bossy disposition and her unnerving habit of having to have the last word drives a wedge between Reuben and I. We’ve only been married a few short months. Our relationship with his mother has only gotten worse.
If only Reuben would stand up to her. Perhaps things would change. But I highly doubt that will ever happen. Even his father walks away when she goes on one of her rampages. I suppose it’s easier that way. I must admit I feel sorry for Reuben’s datt.
My heart melted the other day when he caught my eye momentarily before leaving the kitchen. The deep lines etched on his forehead softened when he looked my way. I swore he mouthed the word ‘sorry’ as he passed. It was so quick, I had to take a double look to be sure. Before I could respond, he pulled his straw hat tight on his head and escaped outside. Something I noticed he did often.
Reuben keeps telling me that Gott loves his mother as much as he loves me, and I must extend her grace. He assures me that if we give her enough time, she’ll calm down and accept things as they are. Besides, there isn’t much she can do now that we’re married.
Reuben’s way of always seeing the good in every situation was one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place. But now, after moving to Willow Springs and living so close to his family, his laid-back way of approaching conflict leaves me frustrated.
My family wasn’t like this, and I don’t understand the dynamics of the Raber household. Maybe it’s the cultural differences? I was raised in a more contemporary Mennonite home. And even though my parents were gone a lot on mission trips, religion and values were at the core of our family. My mother respected my father, and I don’t remember a time when she voiced her opinions in such a bold manner. And never in front of us children. If they did disagree, it was behind closed doors. Our home was loving and peaceful, except when I pushed the limits. I was a wild child, as my parents often reminded me. Loud and opinionated and always full of words.
When I called to cry on my mother’s shoulder from the phone shanty the other day, she kindly reminded me that I often acted much like Saloma does. Nobody likes to have their faults pointed out, and that includes me. I cut my call short and told Reuben that my mother was crazy. Reuben smiled and quickly inserted that perhaps I was frustrated because I saw a little of myself in his mother.
It wasn’t that at all. It was that Reuben was too quiet and much too afraid of his mother to stand up for me…his fraa. It was the least he could do since I left my home in Sugarcreek so he could stay and help his bruders with the farm. I left my church, sister, parents, and community for what? To deal with a heartless mother-in-law who couldn’t care less about anything but herself.
Even before we were married, she made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t suitable for her son. I thought she would change her mind, especially since I joined the church and agreed to adapt to a more conservative way of Amish life.
As I sit here, feeling sorry for myself, I can’t help but remember what my sweet neighbor, Lydia, shared with me just this morning.
“Allie, every family struggles with sin and character flaws. In their own way, they all experience conflict and brokenness. But we must remember that Gott intentionally put the members of your family together for a purpose. It’s Satan who is determined to break the foundation Gott orchestrated. Gott intends you to use those battles to draw closer to Him as Satan wants to use them to tear families apart.”
She patted my arm when I rolled my eyes and said, “You have everything you need to find encouragement and hope in the Gott’s Word. Go to it and meditate on his promises. He’ll give you practical steps to heal the brokenness you’re experiencing.”
It seemed like too much to comprehend, and I let out a long sigh. The thought of trying to work through his mother’s bad attitude was a daunting task. How on earth did I think things would change? I saw all the signs beforehand but chose to ignore them for love. I was sure once we were married, Reuben would come to my rescue and cling to me like the Bible says he should. Instead, he walks around on pins and needles and tries to keep peace with me while not upsetting her.
Lydia’s words helped, and I pondered her advice most of the day. She offered me truth and clarity, along with some much-needed encouragement.
Perhaps Gott did have motivation for placing me in the Raber family. What that might be is a mystery for sure and certain.
All I want is a peaceful and loving home. A husband who will stand by my side in all circumstances and in-laws who consider me a blessing rather than a curse.
“Please, Lord, help me see your goodness in all things. I know your plans are greater than anything I can imagine. Help me love Saloma as you love her. You hand-picked my parents, sibling, husband, and even mother-in-law. The challenges I’m facing are not a surprise to you, I’m sure of it. It’s part of your plan that I might grow in faith and character. Search my heart, oh Lord, show me where I may fall short of your loving grace…amen.”
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