The words were barely legible. The hurried scrawl across the back of an envelope are the only clue. A hint at a past of sorrow. My history more than a century ago.
Was there evil intent? Was harm the motive, or just a selfish nature of someone who didn’t know God and the meaning of love?
On a rare afternoon in Ada, Oklahoma, I was sitting in the floor with my mom looking through the neatly sorted piles of our family history. Yes, even at her age she is still a spritely “floor sitter.”
Photos, news clippings, papers and memorabilia covered a third of the room. To say that my grandma never threw anything away is an understatement. But on this day I am grateful.
For unfolding before me was a story,
A history lesson,
The life of my great-great grandmother was summed up in a shaky hand.
“Listen to this, Mom,” I proceeded to decipher the faint pencil tracings.
My great grandmother Lida wrote that she never knew her own grandmother who died young, leaving seven small children. Her overwhelmed grandfather married a widow who had four sons of her own.
The next sentence shot my core with dismay.
“She was mean. When Grandfather died, she took everything and “turned out” her step children.”
She goes on to say, her thirteen year old grandmother found work and lodging helping a local family with their children.
The stark reality of those words chill.
I can see her slight figure bent alone and forlorn, all love in her world suddenly sucked out in a death vacuum.
A young girl already bereft of her mother, is now left broken-hearted by the loss of her father. Suddenly she finds herself abandoned and her beloved siblings scattered.
Such heartbreak–to be mourning and then cast out on top of it all.
The note then takes an unexpected turn. She must have also been hard and unkind to her own. The paper says her children then “turned her out.”
But the deceased parents left a legacy. They taught those seven children of love, compassion and forgiveness. They showed them what it means to live a Godly life, by not repaying evil with evil.
The remaining words warmed my heart, “One of her stepchildren she had been bad to, took her in. Another one built her a small house on their property.” In the margin she wrote,
“A Cinderella Story.”
1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
-Are you teaching your children the Godly way of responding to adverse situations?
-More important than words are your actions. Forgiveness is a task which is never easy but is always right.