When a relative asks to live with you

WHEN my mother telephoned one day to ask if she could live with us, I was stunned. Although she had lived with our family during the years my sons were growing up and helped in raising them, I was not prepared to live with her now. I was into new, demanding work. I needed time to myself. These were my years. (Weren't they?) ``I'll have to think it over and call you back,'' I said.

I felt pulled in opposite directions. I loved Mom, but this move would be a large change in my life. It was one thing to be in partnership with my mother, bringing up two boys. We had had a wonderful time. We were good friends. But now she was supposed to be going her way, I mine.

Yet there was a special need at the moment, she had said. A nursing home wouldn't fill it, nor a retirement community, nor living with other family members.

In my study of Christian Science I had learned that even in the most demanding family situation, where one member was leaning on another for financial help, physical care, home, companionship, or whatever, a loving and satisfying solution could always be found. Always, that is, when the leaned-upon member strove to identify the other person spiritually -- strove to discern his or her true selfhood as God's perfect idea, whole and complete, lacking nothing.

So now I would have to prove this myself. I knew the solution lay in seeing my mother in a spiritual light, as God had created her, and not only as a human parent to whom I owed a special obligation. If I was truly willing to do God's will (and in my prayers I assured Him I was), I would have to listen for His direction and then obediently act.

During this praying time the Bible was my constant guide, especially the passage in Mark about Jesus' wonderfully freeing sense of family relationships. ``There came then his brethren and his mother,'' the account goes, ``and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.''1

Some family! And did Jesus ever deny any of them the help they needed? I asked myself. Jesus prayed to discern God's will. Then he acted. Could I do less?

Of course not. But then I hedged. Wasn't this really too great a demand on me? Didn't I have a right to my independence? How could I be certain this idea of my mother's living with me was truly God's will? Surely there was a better, less demanding way for her to work out her life!

As I prayed to understand more about demands -- what were legitimate and what weren't -- I found this enlightening passage in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.2 Referring to God, she writes, ``Truth, Life, and Love are the only legitimate and eternal demands on man, and they are spiritual lawgivers, enforcing obedience through divine statutes.''3

In my heart I really knew that my mother's need was spiritual -- a demand of Love. It wasn't financial nor simply a desire for my companionship. She needed to live these particular years of her long and wonderful life in an atmosphere that I alone among other family members -- or retirement communities or nursing homes -- could provide.

So finally I was able to welcome her into my home; not out of grudging, dutiful obligation to a human parent but in obedience to God. And what a richly rewarding experience it turned out to be for both of us. In fact those years of special love for my mother led eventually to my meeting the man who is now my husband.

Do you have a relative who needs you? It may not be an outcome of divine wisdom for you to share your life as I did. However, when you humbly trust God and obediently follow His guidance, you will know what is the right step to take, and will take it with grace and dominion.

1Mark 3:31-35. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 184. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Psalms 37:23

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