We were the parents of an only child. The Lord was good to us and blessed us with a sweetest, and headstrong little girl. The delivery was a breeze. But, I must admit that motherhood wasn’t so easy for me. I was nervous, afraid that I would be a failure and that I wouldn’t know what to do. So, we determined to follow our heavenly Father’s example. We figured it out and watched her grow into a godly young woman. But we knew that one day that day would come. You know…THAT day. That day when she would leave us to make her own home. So, in preparation, we taught her the godly priorities for choosing a mate. We knew that she would be the helpmeet for the rest of her life so it was imperative she choose a godly man, and we were fierce about it! But, nothing prepared me for when we realized THAT day was upon us. The day when she had found THAT man. We knew he would be a good spiritual leader of her home, as God intended. He was raised that way by a dear brother and sister in the faith and God was at the center of their home. We felt confident that he would never place our daughter above His God so it made THAT day easier.
But, that meant I would be a mother-in-law. I had never been one before and I wanted to be a good one. So, again I was nervous. I remember immediately mentally thumbing through the Bible and trying to recall God’s instruction about: “How to be a Good Mother-in-law.” I drew a blank! I started noticing how mother-in-laws around me behaved. Some even offered me advice, but it didn’t make sense to me- not godly sense. So, I contacted some sisters in the faith and asked their advice. They all assured me that I would be fine, but I still needed help.
So, back to the word I went. I looked and looked…I read about Jethro in Exodus, Moses’ father-in-law, a great father-in-law, but he wasn’t a mother-in-law. I read about the terrible relationship that Rebekka had with her daughter-in- laws in Genesis 27. That made me more nervous. I became frustrated when it seemed to me that God was not offering me direction in His word as to how to be a good mother-in-law. The Bible is designed to offer instruction on everything (II Timothy 3:16), every part of our lives: how to worship…how to be good stewards of the gifts our Father has given us…how to be a good brother, parents, etc. So, where was the mother in law? Then it hit me--we focus primarily on how Ruth takes care of her mother in law, we talk about the relationship between Ruth and Boaz and we discuss the obligations that a daughter in law has to her mother in law, but I haven’t heard us teach about being a good mother in law…being a Naomi, the most famous mother-in-law in the Bible. It seems that we forget about Naomi’s role as a mother.
Notice Ruth chapter 2 verse 19-20: And her mother in law said unto her, Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be he that took notice of you. And she told her mother in law with whom she had worked, and said, The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz. And Naomi said to her, Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, This man is a relation of ours, one of our closest relatives.
And we probably all know the rest of the story- Ruth and Boaz married and Naomi became a mother-in-law….again. I realized that Ruth had been a daughter to her. She had cared for her and provided for her. She knew that by Ruth finding a mate that Ruth would have to put her husband, Boaz, above her. But, she rejoiced when Ruth became Boaz’s wife. Interesting isn’t it? It wasn’t about her.
So, I thought maybe I am looking at this in as a mother, or in the wrong way. So I went all the way back to the beginning and reread Genesis 2 verses 22-24 and I paid particular attention to the last part of verse 24, but this time I read it as a mother-in-law: “ a man shall leave his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
I reread Ephesians 5:22-33 as if it is instruction for a mother-in-law. I saw that God is very clear about the marriage relationship and there isn’t one mention of a mother-in-law. Nothing in the Bible that reflected what I was seeing around me- mothers asking daughters to remain faithful to them, serve them, remain loyal to them…even over their husbands and families.
So, I came to the following conclusions regarding what God tells me is my role, or place in my daughter’s life as a mother-in-law:
First, God tells me in I Corinthians 11: 3 that my role is to teach my daughter to put her husband above me. It is my duty to my God, and to my daughter to support her husband as the head of her home.
Second, Colossians 3: 18-19 instructs me that my role is to be in subjection. The Lord authorized my son-in-law to be the head of my daughter’s home and when I am in his home I am in subjection to him as well as my husband.
It really wasn’t as complicated as I thought. I realized that the absence of instruction was my instruction.
When I began my journey as a mother-in-law almost six years ago and I was nervous. I knew the reputation of meddlesome mother-in-laws and I knew THAT wasn’t God’s plan. I wonder how we got there and think that maybe some of us mother-in-laws may not be looking at our role in the same way that God does. I think that many of us may see ourselves still as mothers first and you know, we’re not THAT kind of mother any longer. That part of our job is over. Our role is different, just as important, but different. Titus 2: 3-5 helps us understand that. You see, our sweet little girl was raised to follow God and His design for marriage and I see that my job is to do the same…because in God’s eyes, she is no longer “our daughter”. God sees her as my sweet sister in Christ first and next He sees her as Mrs. Blair, my sweet son-in-law’s wife. And me? Well, I get to be his mother-in-law. It is that simple…and that wonderful.