When your Daughter-in-Law Starts to Date: Reflections of a M.I.L.
by Jill Neff
It was not what I expected to hear standing in line, balancing my items and waiting my turn to pay. Absorbed with the myriad of games and candy bars, I didn’t pay much attention to the two women in front of me until these words registered in my distracted brain, “Well you know, a daughter-in-law isn’t really family or blood…”
I wanted to drop my items, hurry after her, and try to dispel the ridiculous notion I had just heard from her lips. For several hours, those words bounced around in my head, and I tried to imagine what the whole conversation might have been. And what would make a person say those words out loud?
From the first moment they called me “mom,” my two daughters-in-law have been special parts of our family. Two sons and their wives, supporting, encouraging one another, and forging a bond that swept beyond the biological definition of a family. Two sons and two daughters-in-law planning for a lifetime.
And then there were three.
Losing our son suddenly and without warning was a roller coaster of emotions, pain, grief, and, grace. So much grace. We shared the pain and grief with our daughter-in-law, Ami, and we grieved our loss individually as well. And God began to “heal the brokenhearted” (Psalm 147:3) and bind our wounds with cords of unending grace and love. Because if there was ever someone who understands brokenhearted, it’s God. He gave HIS son in my place, willingly sending Christ to die on the cross for me. Talk about brokenhearted. He is intimately acquainted with shattered hearts, and He knew just what we needed to heal, giving His abundant grace and wrapping us in His love.
Now things are changing. Our sweet Ami has met someone special, someone who is willing to know her and understand the journey she has experienced. It’s a day I’ve prayed for and always believed in my heart would come.
And I feel like I’m standing right beside her on that diving board, sharing her anxiety, fearful of another loss. Feeling fragile. But I also hear the soft whisper from God’s word, encouraging me to think on honest, pure, lovely truth because this sweet, special daughter-in-law is completely in God’s hands, and His plans are perfect.
No fear allowed!
But if I’m honest, standing on that diving board holds another fear for me–the fear of a different form of loss. It’s a silly irrational fear, yes! Because unlike the woman at the store, I believe that daughters-in-law are part of the family. Not born in by blood, but bonded in with love, each one is like a quilt piece woven into the fabric of our lives by a gracious God.
I don’t want to lose her.
So here we are, poised at the beginning of a new part of this journey. Sitting across from her, I see it in her eyes. I hear it in her voice. She’s ready, brought to this moment by the grace and marvelous workings of a great God. And I realize I won’t lose her, I’ll do this journey with her.
So jump in Ami! The water’s fine. And I’m right behind you!
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