There is a prayer, popularly known as the serenity prayer, that goes, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I’ll be teaching that particular devotion to the tribe early and often.
My mother has one sister, who is married and has one child. I had not seen any of them since my Granny left us in 1990, because of a disagreement between my mom and my aunt. Because the disagreement escalated to a point where Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin have little to no contact with Mom’s side of the family, they hadn’t had any word of me since the early 2000s.
When Pop-Pop went to join Granny in 2009, I finally learned their last name.
After a modest amount of Internet sleuthing, I located a young man who I believed to be Cousin. Since I wasn’t completely sure it was he, and wasn’t sure he, Uncle, or Aunt would welcome contact from me, I set a couple of bookmarks so I could contact him later if it seemed advisable.
Last weekend, I happened across a post by him on a website I read periodically, indicating Aunt was in the final stage of a fatal illness. The advisability of attempting to contact Cousin was no longer debatable. I posted a quick summary of the situation on Facebook and asked my friends for help in finding good, current contact information for Cousin.
The Lord is good, and sometimes tells me His will by what help He sends. I contacted Cousin through an online messaging service he uses. He was quite surprised that I had managed to find him, although not displeased, and invited me to visit. As it happens, they live less than an hour from us. Cousin and I agreed that whatever else happens, the feud between our mothers will remain between our mothers henceforth.
We visited them yesterday. Uncle and Cousin assure me that Aunt knew we were there. Cousin conveyed Aunt’s request that Mom not visit her. My husband and I agreed to honor Aunt’s wishes. We have not yet told Mom of Aunt’s condition.
I hope there will be time for me to visit Aunt again in this world. We will make the time for Uncle and Cousin.
As it happens, Uncle and I share a profession; we are both educators, although he teaches at the college level. Cousin shares all of our love of music, my husband’s predilection for video games, and our daughters’ enjoyment of My Little Pony.
I held Aunt’s hand, and kissed her cheek, and told her I was sorry it had taken so much and so long for me to come see her and her family.
When I went to bed last night, and when I arose this morning, I couldn’t shake the thoughts of what might have been, how destructive resentments, grudges, and pride can be. I have an uncle with stories to share who I’ve met, now, a total of three times. I have a bright and interesting cousin who I’ve now met twice. I have an aunt about whom I know next to nothing who is no longer able to tell me her story, and who the tribe won’t remember. This estrangement has been for my entire adult life. Has been. It’s done.
I believe that I had to live every moment of my life exactly as I lived it in order to be who, what, and where I am today. There have been times where the price has been terrible for my daily joy. This is one of those times. If I can go where the Lord leads me through this trial, I know my joy will increase, but I will have to listen more carefully than usual for His voice, because my memory of a grudge with foundations that are unclear to me will be trying to shout Him down.
Please forgive this unusually terse and inelegant post. And please read Matthew 18.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for my cousin’s post on a message board that led me back to a part of our family I had given up. Thank You for giving them enough mercy and love to invite us to visit.
Lord, please forgive me for my unloving thoughts, words, and actions over the past two decades. Please help me teach Your blessings that there has never been a grudge among two people that has come from You. Wrath is among the deadly sins for a reason; it cuts off a part of my heart from reaching out in love, and instead allows a hellish brew of anger and resentment to fester where love and forgiveness should be. Help me teach Your blessings to stand firmly with You when asked to be a part of someone else’s grudge, and when I am tempted not to forgive, or am tempted to bear ill-will because of a wrong alleged by another, please show me my aunt’s face. When I choose anger, I am spurning Your gifts. Kindle in me a grateful heart, Lord, one that is open that what blessings You send. Please grant me, and help me teach Your blessings, a spirit of genuine and generous repentance, instead of useless and selfish guilt.