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The Deep Ugliness and Beauty Inside

It’s done. I’ve finished moving. Moving, but not unpacking. The end there may never be seen.  It’s been a tiring and daunting thing to pack up and move, but I have done something even more daring than just any plain ol’ move. I have moved in with my in-laws.

It’s done. I’ve finished moving. Moving, but not unpacking. The end there may never be seen.  It’s been a tiring and daunting thing to pack up and move, but I have done something even more daring than just any plain ol’ move. I have moved in with my in-laws.

The jokes about in-laws abound, especially that poor abused mother-in-law. I’ve never understood why she gets such a bad rap. I enjoy my in-laws immensely and think the whole in-laws thing can be rather delightful, but moving into someone else’s house, when almost all the spaces to put stuff already have stuff in them, is not so delightful at all.

And with my in-laws, there are cultural and language barriers that I keep bumping into because they are Cambodian and I’m not. For example, I’d like to put some stuff in the kitchen, but the cabinets are all pretty full. The problem is that I really need to put some stuff in the kitchen because I don’t recognize or know how to use a lot of what is currently sitting next to the stove. Spices and sauces abound that I’ve never seen before. It’s not that I have a problem with things being different, but I do love a good plate of pasta every once in awhile, and in my opinion, spaghetti and fish sauce aren’t best friends.

But I must confess, there’s a bigger problem that I keep bumping into—my selfish self. I’ve often thought of myself as easy-going, laid-back, definitely not materialistic. But when the materials I am used to having need to be kept in the garage, and then those boxes of materials keep getting moved around willy-nilly, I find that I am not the lovely person I so often see smiling at me in the mirror. I can keep a gracious attitude on the outside, but on the inside, quite a few sins rear up their ugly little heads.

It’s hard to come face-to-face with the reality that we aren’t who we thought. My thoughts run the gamut lately: Who is this person? Me? No. This isn’t the person I am, right? This person is not so nice, and I am definitely nice. I have to be nice. Who could love someone like this? Not me.

The sinking in your heart, the disappointment in yourself, and somewhere in the midst, the eternal voice of God reminding you that you are always loved. Isn’t that how it always goes? We see a bit deeper into what’s really in us, and then we are allowed to see that God’s unfathomable love goes deeper than all that.

Thank God for a God that loves us so. Thank God He knows us better, loves us more than anyone else, and takes us to the ugly places to show us a beauty that we didn’t know existed. And thank God for in-laws, the stuff that already surrounds us, and the stuff that can’t be unpacked.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

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Jamie Lath

Jamie Lath is a middle child that has no baby picture without her older sister in it. Even with only two siblings, she grew up with family everywhere because all her aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and even second-cousins lived in her hometown. With forty people at her birthday parties (all relatives) and her sister in every picture, she knows a little about community, and it's everlastingness. This has brought most of her ministry focus into meeting people where they're at, listening closely (especially to those who feel voiceless and like no one is listening), and helping them find God's voice in the mix. Jamie graduated with a BA in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas. Following a year of teaching English in China, she returned to the states to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. She received a Th.M. with a focus on Media Arts. Her background in the arts (ballet, writing, and acting) has given her an understanding of how creative expressions can give people a safe place to begin exploring how to use their voice and how it can touch hearts to hear God’s voice. She also blogs at I just called to say "Olive Juice."

4 Comments

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    Anonymous

    I can completely identify
    I can completely identify with your situation! We lived with my in-laws for a few months (about 18 months after we got married) and faced many of the same issues you mentioned. We were very different and still are. The Lord not only used that time to develop the relationship between me and my mother-in-law, but he helped me learn to relate to the people who raised my husband with the grace and respect they deserve. He also helped me let go of my need to be in control all of the time! We don’t have a perfect relationship, but I believe it’s better than it would have been had I not allowed God to work on my heart during that time.

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      Jamie Lath

      Thanks for the surge of hope
      It’s so good to hear from someone on the other side of this situation and know it ends well. You totally hit it on that control comment. I find that if I can just let go of my expectations of how it is supposed to be, then I can live in what it really is. Besides, what it really is is not bad, just not what I thought. When will I learn that I don’t think straight most of the time anyway?

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        Angela

        I’m happy to offer a little
        I’m happy to offer a little encouragement! BTW, I forgot to type in my name … didn’t mean to anonymous.
        Angela

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    gerald

    Fantastic post. Bookmarked
    Fantastic post. Bookmarked this site and emailed it to a few friends, your post was that great, keep it up

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