Thank you all for your prayers. They have been much appreciated, and will continue to be much appreciated. I believe I have acted over these past days with wisdom and grace which I can take no credit for in myself. They have been very hard days, but God has preserved me through, and I know that He will preserve me through those ahead. But they are not going to be easy, and thus your continued intercession will be gladly received.
To keep you all up to date, here is the brief summary of what transpired since I left off Wednesday night with Melinda riding off into the dark.
Thursday morning Grandma had a doctor’s appointment. The morning began with her very weepy and feeling sorry for herself, but I said nothing and she said nothing. I took her to the appointment and after she was finished with the doctor and we both got into the car she promptly said, “I told the doctor everything that happened and she said I was right to do what I did. It had to be done and she says both you and Arlan were wrong and you owe me an apology.”
She then proceeded for about half of the trip home to justify herself, as her actions being both necessary and right–the doctor agreed with her, and she told Grandpa what was going on and he was behind her 100%–condemning Melinda, and telling me that I was selfish, self-centered, uncaring, naive, ignorant, and I can’t remember exactly what else she piled on during the trip. I said not a single word, as I didn’t see there was anything to be said.
The rest of the day was very strained. Doug was over for lunch and Grandma gave him her story of how she had to do it, and I don’t know what else because I tried to make myself absent. Nothing was really said for the rest of the day, though I tried to maintain the veneer of politeness.
The next morning (Friday morning) Grandma said, “Rundy, we need to talk.”
“Okay,” I said.
“You’re not respecting my authority,” she said. “Grandpa understands this and so he has lost confidence in you and now he comes to me for everything. We need to get this straightened out. Are you going to accept my authority?”
“Grandma,” I said. “You’re mistaken. I have always respected your authority to decide what can be done with your possessions, but I have never from the very beginning when I came here, respected your authority to tell me what to do, what to think, or what is right. You don’t have authority over me.”
She didn’t take that well. “I don’t know how you can come here thinking that,” she said. She went on to say she didn’t think I was fit or mature enough for this job, and that if I wasn’t going to support her she was going to find someone else.
“Basically,” she said, “if you’re not for me than you’re against me.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t agree you were right in what you did to Melinda.”
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll find someone else to help.”
“Okay,” I said. “I came here because I was asked, and I’ll leave when I’m asked. I’ll stay as long as you need me and as long as it takes you to find someone. You just tell me when you’re ready for me to leave.”
Afterward, I called Dad and told him what was up and said that he might want to let his brothers and sisters know what cliff Grandma was getting ready to drive over in case anyone thought they could restrain Grandma or be a voice of reason to her. Dad called around, and my Aunt Daryl was up lickty-split.
Daryl tried to deal with the issue as she saw best, but I was unhappy with her method. She talked to Grandma privately, and then talked to me privately. She was trying to act as an intermediary, but I believe the Bible teaches that the proper way to resolve a situation is for the conflicted parties to meet face to face, perhaps with a third party as a witness–but not with this shuttle diplomacy. Further, I got the sense the Daryl, in attempting to paper things over was trying to present to me what Grandma said in the best way possible, and then present what I said in a way that Grandma could accept so that everything would seem to be resolved, but really it would all be under false pretenses.
So in Daryl’s view if we all came to recognize that Grandma wasn’t going to apologize, I wasn’t going to apologize, and we just dropped the whole issue everything could go back to normal. About all I could tell Daryl was that I had made my position clear to Grandma, and that I was willing to stay until I was asked to leave.
Saturday, Grandma called my Uncle Nate to come up. I talked to him privately when he arrived, giving him a brief summary of what had happened. “I get the picture,” was all he said. I went on a bike ride so Grandma could talk to him privately. After I came back we had a “discussion” (for lack of a better word). I was more pleased with how this turned out–not because it turned out in what was the best or proper way, but because Grandma and I spoke face to face, Nate clearly represented my position, and was a witness to what went on.
“I’m not going to apologize,” Grandma said, “because I don’t have anything to apologize for. And while I really wish you would, I realize I’ll have to accept that you won’t apologize. I realize we’ll just have to put this behind us. I’ll be glad to have you stay, if you’ll be happy to stay.”
Nate’s attempt to “make peace” (though I don’t see it as the real peace which God would have) was to lay out clearly to Grandma my position: (1) I didn’t disagree that Grandma could do whatever she wanted with her house and car (2) she couldn’t tell me what I could do with my person (3) I didn’t agree Grandma was right in how she acted (4) I would help Melinda as I saw fit with my own resources and time. So, laying that out, Nate in essence said, “We can agree to disagree. You will do your thing, he will do his thing, and he will still take care of you and Grandpa.”
“I know,” Grandma said. “But it just hurts me so much that he doesn’t respect me, but I’ll just have to learn to live with it and put it behind me!” and she started to cry.
“I think there is just a misunderstanding of words,” Nate said. “Rundy doesn’t disrespect you.”
For me, I found myself in the situation I had been finding myself in repeatedly. Grandma will define, and redefine things to fit her means and goals. Nate thought there was a misunderstanding, but I knew that Grandma and I understood each other perfectly, and she was just using “respect” because it fit her presentation of me being unkind and unreasonable.
I wanted the truth out in the open, so I said, “How have I not shown respect, Grandma? I’ve never cursed you or shouted at you. I’ve always taken care of you. How haven’t I shown respect?”
“It cuts me to the heart every time I think about how you came to me with fire in your eyes” (speaking of the night when she threw Melinda out) “like you had some right to lecture me.”
There. What I already knew was out in the open. Respect for Grandma meant admitting that I had no right to come to her with fire in my eyes and tell her she was wrong.
By this Saturday “discussion” it had become quite clear to me that Grandma’s entire effort in this conflict was aimed at making me bend knee and confess that she was right. It has become very evident in the course of events that Grandma cannot abide someone who believes she is wrong. As she said, “If you’re not for me, you’re against me” and she attempted to bring me in submission to her will by every means she had at her disposal.
First she asserted that my thoughts and opinions didn’t matter, then she marshaled every authority she could (doctor, Grandpa) and asserted her righteousness and demanded an apology. That demand, coupled with the degradation of my character, didn’t produced the desire confession that I was wrong to say that she was wrong, and she was right and justified in what she did. Since that didn’t work the next day she moved on to the ultimatum: Support me or get out. I didn’t back down, so now in front of Nate and Grandpa she tried the last angle: Cry, and say I had hurt her so badly by what I had said/done.
That still didn’t work. “You understand I had to do that to Melinda, don’t you?” she said. “You understand I had to get furious before I could do what needed to be done. You understand that Melinda would never have left unless I threw her out like that.”
“I understand what you think,” I said. “But I don’t agree that it was right.”
No, no, and no, to every one of those things. Melinda would have left without being thrown out–I had told Grandma myself before everything blew up with Melinda that Melinda had told me she intended to be out by July first. There was no justification for throwing her out in that manner, and there is no excuse for sinning in anger. (Not that I articulated those things to Grandma–but not one of the things she said was true.)
Since this is Grandma’s war where she has marshaled everyone she can against me, that “discussion” ended at a truce. I wouldn’t back down, she wouldn’t back down, but since she couldn’t really find someone else to take my place, she was forced to swallow and call truce.
And that was all it was. Maybe she will eventually find some way so that she no longer needs me, or maybe the “truce” will endure until she and Grandpa die. But I believe that she has said such things to me, and about about me, to my face that my existence around her (to her) is galling. My very presence is a stench in her nostrils because, while she never allowed me on the first night to fully articulate my disapproval, that fact that I would not give her the apology for even thinking to rebuke her and confess that she was right made my presence and existence a living testimony against her.
She cannot abide that, and I will not surrender it. My conscience testifies that she was wrong, and I will not sacrifice my integrity, or the truth, so Grandma can feel justified in what she did. That is exactly the opposite of a proper witness for Christ. The world hates it when we testify by our word and deeds that they have acted sinfully, and they will try to make us concede that they are righteous.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt tested like I have these last few days. It has felt as if every possible pressure has been applied against me to say that wrong was right. I felt not only the requirement to maintain a proper witness regarding what Grandma did, but to also express that witness properly and clearly. It is not something I could have done by my own strength, but by the grace of God I do feel that I have acted and spoke as God willed.
After that meeting with Nate Grandma decided to call truce and “be nice.” Her underlying heart-attitude has not changed, so I don’t know how long this outward manifestation will last. For my part I believe, and hope before God, that I have forgiven Grandma for what she said against me. I am ready and willing to continue making every meal for Grandma, clean up the kitchen, take her to her doctor appointments, sit up with her all night in the emergency room, and take care of Grandpa until God sees fit for them to die. While I had moments of anger in this whole conflict, I have more distress and sickness of heart and body, and I do not believe I harbor any anger or bitterness toward Grandma.
In my own heart I feel I can go forward in peace of my heart.
But of course the situation involves more than just me, and I don’t see how (without a change of heart) Grandma can do anything but fester. When you are angry, bitter, and vindictive, you apply those things to everyone else, and Grandma is still telling people that I am angry with her. When you read evil intent into everything how can it end well?
So I don’t know. Only God knows how it will all turn out. One thing is sure, what Grandma did has consequences. She has reckless injured a lot of people, poisoned her own attitude toward me, and destroyed any trust a number of people might have had in her. Time will tell what the long term consequences of those things will be, but there is one immediate result.
Arlan is moving out. Since Grandma has demonstrated that she is ready and willing to turn people out with a moments notice Arlan has no assurance that he has any stable residence here. I don’t either, of course, but I’m ready to pack up and go home whenever Grandma gives me the word. But Arlan has a job down in Pennsylvania and he can’t have that type of uncertainty hanging over his head. So he told Grandma today that he was going to start looking for an apartment closer to work. Arlan is not doing this to be vindictive, (and I told him even before the Melinda situation blew up that he didn’t need to feel he had to stay on my account) and apparently he managed to be diplomatic enough that Grandma took it fairly well (and I suspect in her heart she may even be pleased, as she feels we are “against her” and the less people against her in the house the better), though she will need to find someone else to do the lawn work which Arlan presently does when he is home from work.
So that is where things stand. It is just a summary of what has happened in the past days, with many things left out, but it should give you an idea of the situation and perhaps inform you as to the nature of your prayers. I pray that Arlan and Melinda will both be better off going in their new paths. I pray that God will show mercy to Grandma and Grandpa, and He will give me strength and grace. Not only that, but that He will use this for His glory and my teaching and instruction.
Good night all.