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Dear Esther : July 15 2013

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Jul 15, 2013

Dear Esther,
I have been married for eighteen years now and have three wonderful children. My biggest problem is that my wife truly HATES my parents. My parents have never done anything really, but that is just it. They have very little contact or relationships with their grandchildren either. They expect me to go to them, so they can see the kids. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to go to a soccer game.

They are retired and I work sixty hours a week. My wife despises them and is very unforgiving for this, and has written them off. I love my wife and my parents, and I have fought with both parties over this issue. Every holiday for me is dreadful and sometimes turns into a fight. My wife has cut off my parents and my parents are “uncomfortable” around my wife and have no contact with us except the big $50 bill my kids get in the mail for birthdays.

I am disgusted with both parties at this point. I will never leave my wife, but I still think my parents deserve better from us. I am very confused at this point. No one is going to give and the fact is, my parents are old and won’t be here forever, but I need to be with my wife and kids.

My wife and I attend a Christian church and have been for about two years now. My parents are Catholic and that is how I grew up. They are much more about the “ritual” of the church than truly learning about Christ. It put a very bad taste in my mouth, and I didn’t go to church for over twenty years, after I left home for the military. The root cause for all this is a good question. We were very close to my family at the beginning and thought they would be awesome grandparents.

After my first son was born, my parents took two weeks to finally come visit and it has gone down hill from there. Since then, my parents could not do anything right in the eyes of my wife. Very minor things my parents did would be analyzed and critiqued by my wife. Our parents were friends and that is how my wife and I met. Her parents were around a lot and my Dad made a comment that he is part of the “B” team and that was pretty much the nail in the coffin for my wife, and her parents also got very upset. Since then they tolerate each other but are no longer friends and my in-laws have become very active in our kids lives.

My kids have noticed the hatred and my oldest son (13 ) even told my wife that she needs to “let it go.” My parents can definitely feel the tension with my wife and they just think its best to stay away. My parents did come for my youngest son’s baseball game and my wife did not go. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin on my parent’s side. We all went to Christmas at my sister’s this year and my parents and wife did not talk to each other. BROKE MY HEART!

My wife is a nurse and she works very hard as well. Her parents get it and are always helpful. Holidays are usually here because it’s just easier for us and they know that. My parents and family came here for a couple of occasions but last time (5 years ago), my mom felt disrespected by my wife’s mom for ignoring her and that was the last time they came. Last month my wife saw on Facebook that my side of the family got together at my sister’s house for a graduation party and we were not invited. She said that she is now “done” with my family. However, even if had been invited, I know we would not have gone.

We have been to counseling but nothing was ever resolved. Things have gotten worse. My wife even got upset at me for calling my Dad on Fathers Day. This is insane to me and I really don't know how much more I can take. I am simply at my wits end. My parents were wonderful growing-up, and I never imagined life would end-up like this. My wife is a great person and am baffled by her behavior. She has even thrown out the comment that I need to, “Choose between them.” I hope this is not the nail in my coffin. HELP!

My wife and I would consider ourselves born-again, but I don’t think my in-laws would or my parents, but then again who am I to judge their thoughts and beliefs.

I feel like I’m walking on eggshells and every holiday is miserable. I just don’t know how my wife is going to react. I don’t even feel comfortable calling my parents any more. My wife just will not budge on this one issue. I don't understand. My parents see my struggle and just stand by and lay on the guilt trip when I do call.

Any suggestions and prayers are greatly appreciated. I will say one thing, however, this whole experience has brought me closer to God. I just pray for a little slack in this area. I want to enjoy life too, and I just can’t with this over my head. Me, my wife, and my parents all deserve better, but just can’t seem to get there.

Any prayers or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!

Steve

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Dear Steve,
I receive a lot of letters on many different topics and issues, but this situation has me really shaking my head. It sounds like you and your 13-year-old and the rest of the children are the only reasonable members of this family. When families are suffering throughout the world with real problems from unemployment to serious and chronic illnesses, your clan is so caught-up in pettiness and self-pity that they are all making themselves miserable trying to prove a point.

And what that point is, can only come back to the same sin that caused Lucifer to rebel against God: PRIDE and extreme and obsessive self-righteousness. And it is the same with your family members, plus their relentless unwillingness to forgive and forget. Your frustration is very understandable.

Now I do find it very strange that your parents took two weeks to come see their first grandchild. I can understand how your wife would be upset in that regard. So right there, something is seriously amiss with your parents. It is also very selfish of them to place the burden on you to see their grandchildren. If they don’t want to be around your wife, then at least they could come by and pick-up the children and take them to their home or out for a little get together.

As you say, you work a lot and they are retired. But from what I am reading it sounds like at this time they are not the type going to think of others if it places them in an “uncomfortable” position even for a minute. I would ask them to be more understanding of your work schedule and the feelings of their grandchildren.

This entire thing is so out of step with any godly Christian principles it is mind-boggling. The most difficult issue is finding a way for you to continue to live in such hostile situation. We serve a mighty God and He can change things. And we must pray for that change.

We have to examine how the Lord comes into this entire family debacle. If your wife considers herself a born-again Christian, it might be time for her to begin reevaluating her relationship with Christ─so she can resolve her issues with your parents. Although your parents are also in the wrong, I would say that especially for the sake of your children, and as a Christian, the burden is on her to stop this irrational behavior. Of course she won’t accept that right now, unless she realizes her own sinful behavior.

From what you say in your letter, it does not sound like your parents or in-laws are saved. So essentially you are dealing with a broken-family where the forces of darkness are running wild influencing all the people involved. If your wife is not serious about her faith she cannot be a good witness to anyone. Perhaps if she truly understood the biblical principles of forgiveness and the Lord’s admonition to respect our parents she might yet have a chance to let go of her destructive and hurtful behavior. When we are born-again and saved by the Spirit of God, then we should have a real yearning to know Him and please Him.

When people are this stubborn and unforgiving in no way can they have a true personal relationship with the Lord. And it sounds like your parents and in-laws are not concerned about having that relationship. And it doesn’t sound like this has crossed your wife’s mind, either.

Steve, we are living in the very last days of the end-times. One approach I would use is to really get into sharing Bible prophecy. Share with all of them how close we are to seeing the entire world fall into the hands of a one-world government dictator. Try to relate to them how the unsaved will be left behind to go through the seven-year Tribulation. But first one must understand the principle of renewing the mind, which is explained in the following quote:

A relevant Scripture regarding the life change one should continuously contemplate after receiving Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord and Savior is found in the book of Romans. This is a very important Scripture:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2, emphasis added).

It is not uncommon for some believers after getting saved to disregard the importance of “renewing” our minds. Instead of living for the Lord and reevaluating how we should go about living, some believers continue to live with questionable motives or as if they never really made a true commitment to the Lord. Are we really dedicated to God or are we trying to control everything around us? If we trust Him, and get out of His way, He will bring results into our lives that He knows are best for us.

Our Daily Walk with the Lord Includes Forgiveness

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 6:14-15 ).

Once we have heard and accepted the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith and make a commitment to the Him, we need to yield to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and not “forget” that commitment. We need to be in compliance with the Holy Spirit so He can do the necessary renewing work within us. A genuine conversion experience needs to take place in order to be saved. It is our willingness to work with the Holy Spirit and apply the Word of God to our every day lives that enables us to mature as believers and be “transformed” by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we don’t apply ourselves in this way we cannot achieve true intimacy with the Lord.

In order to achieve true intimacy with the Lord it is also important to apply the biblical teaching of compassion and forgiveness to our lives. It is very important to forgive those who have hurt us. Otherwise we will be carrying an emotional load that will hinder our ability to truly grow. It is spiritually and emotionally debilitating and unscriptural to carry a grudge against someone─especially other believers.

Our true character, our motives and our spiritual authenticity are revealed by how we respond to and treat others, particularly when it comes to forgiveness. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to rectify a problem, some individuals may be unwilling to take responsibility for their own behavior and let go of feelings of anger and bitterness regarding a difficult situation. Forgive them anyway, even if they are in the “wrong” and move on! Pray for them with love.

The Lord knows who truly belong to Him. He knows the true motives of everyone. Give it all over to the Lord. Let Him fight your battles for you. If you have wronged someone, apologize with all sincerity. If your apology is rejected, then that person will carry the burden and their shallow, superficial character will be exposed─no matter how many excuses they make for their spiteful behavior. (A Better World Is Coming Soon - Don’t Miss It Kit Olsen, pp. 237, 393 )


If your wife is a professing Christian, regardless of the behavior of your parents, then it is time for her to realize that unless she takes her commitment to the Lord seriously, then she may need to rethink if she is truly saved. Unforgiveness is a very serious offense to the Lord:

Now with all that said. My suggestion to you is to approach this entire thing from the point of view that you will take on an even stronger leadership role in your immediate family and get them more involved in family devotions whereby they will strengthen their relationship with the Lord.

Is it really necessary to work sixty hours a week and have your wife work a lot also? Have you thought about finding a way so your home life is more balanced where there is more time to spend with the Lord, together? This entire disconnect in the family all comes down to each individual not having a true born-again relationship with the Lord and walking in the Spirit. Your wife, your parents, your in-laws are all functioning like heathens in relation to one another.

The best chance you have at breaking this dark stronghold on your family is to approach this entirely from a faith perspective not a worldly tit-for-tat one that they all seem to be caught-up in. If your wife makes a true commitment to grow in the Lord she will not be able continue her hateful behavior. At this point I am concerned about her eternal destiny. Going to church and then walking out and behaving the way you have described, is very hypocritical. Why does she go to church? Does she go to worship the Lord and grow and learn or for the sake of making an appearance?

Can you get her involved in women’s Bible study, or start a small group Bible study in your home? If she is around other believers who understand godly principles she will become more accountable for her behavior. I am not saying what your parents and in-laws are doing is right, but she is the one in the group you believe to be a “born-again” believer and if she is, then she must be the one to set an example by being forgiving and loving.

Steve, please share the gospel with your parents and in-laws. They are not getting any younger. You sound like a wonderful person and I am so sorry you have had this burden of family conflict for so long. The best chance you have to resolve this dilemma is to openly and more boldly make Christ the center of your home.

I am finding more and more that there seems to be a strange disconnect amongst professing Christians when it comes to sharing the gospel. Do they not really believe their unsaved loved ones will go to hell? We must all become more proactive in sharing the gospel. We are commanded to do so.

Continue to bow before the Lord in prayer He is working in this situation. When it comes to holidays continue to “celebrate” in your home. For now I would contact your parents more privately and not make a big issue out of it in front of your wife. Hopefully as your wife matures in her professed faith, she will begin to realize her hatred is not only hurting the entire family, but the Lord first and foremost.

And if your parents start pouring out the guilt on you when you contact them, then tell them that you love them but they too, need to take their eternal future more seriously and in turn be more forgiving. Ask them if they believe in hell. Show them in the Bible that that terrifying place really exists and unless they get saved they will have a very frightening future. And if your wife gives you an ultimatum to choose her over your parents, then I would simply ignore her. Let’s she is she packs up her belongings and heads for the door. If she presses you, tell her you are not going anywhere. You must lovingly but firmly stand up to her.

The issues with the family will be nothing compared to what they will be facing in the future if they do not repent and get saved. And the same goes for your in-laws. Your wife should especially be concerned about their eternal future─that is, unless she is Christian in name only.

Remind them how Christ died for them and share she Scriptures about forgiveness with them when you feel to do so, when led by the Holy Spirit .How can your wife say she is a professing Christian and not be concerned about those lost in her family? Fortunately for her and the rest of us, God had more compassion for us and sacrificed His Son on the cross when we in no way deserved it.

If there is any way you could get your pastor involved, I think that would be a good approach. See if he would be willing to meet with your entire family. It is hard these days to get good counsel in some churches. I don’t know what kind of counseling you went to before, but if it was not with a true born-again counselor then your efforts of course failed. I am not suggesting a church staff counselor -- I am suggesting the top man at the church who knows his Bible.

The bottom line Steve is this: Your entire family is involved in a fierce spiritual battle. So far he enemies of God have your parents and in-laws on their way to a horrific eternity in hell. And your wife’s salvation may be very shaky.

If you could meet alone with a trusted pastor and explain all of this to him, he may be willing to meet with your family members. Perhaps he could arrange for separate meetings and speak to your parents, your in-laws and also your wife (in your presence of course), since you are in the middle of all of this. Speaking from Scripture, he could explain how this situation is doing nothing productive and although everyone feels hurt, each person should examine them selves and realize that there comes a point where they must let go of the destructive behavior and forgive each other. Each party involved could be approached with doing this for the sake of the children.

I wish I had an instant solution to your dilemma. So many relationship problems exist in families, Christian and non-Christian. I know of a family where one professing Christian daughter is very needy and self-absorbed, manipulative, demanding and jealous; always meddling in the business of others, grandstanding for attention, unwilling to admit her own mistakes and refuses to accept heartfelt apologizes from even those she has wronged.

This speaks loudly of her inauthentic and vacant relationship with the Lord. This one family member causes much heartache for her father who already has some serious health issues. The selfish behavior of this one person also grieves everyone else in the family. You would think that she would be concerned about not upsetting her father and making him stressed and contributing to any illness, but clearly she only thinks of her own selfish petty agendas.

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 ).

So you are not alone when it comes to this very prevalent type of problem of haughtiness and unforgiveness. The spirit of unforgiveness is one of Satan’s most effective weapons. I will continue to pray with you, Steve, and we know that all things are possible with Christ. Just because this has gone on so long does not mean it will continue.

If your family members cannot be awakened to their spiritual folly that has manifested into a full-blown soap opera, then continue to be a good father and stay close to the Lord through prayer and regular Bible study. Pray for your wife that she will be broken of this unreasonable self-defeating attitude. Emotionally distance yourself from all of them when it comes to their need to be miserable and keep growing in the Lord. God will not let you down. But you will probably feel very alone much of the time until these people can stop behaving with pride and selfishness.

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Roman 8:9 ).

We are so close to Christ’s return that soon you will not have to put up with all of this ridiculous behavior from your family members. I pray especially that your parents will find a way to be more concerned and attentive to your children and not allow their feelings of animosity toward your wife hurt your children any longer. Be sure and tell them that they are hurting their grandchildren with their neglectful behavior.

Please keep in touch with me and know that I am praying with you for happy outcome to this very long, sad and futile saga.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 ).



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Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

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