The Gift of a Nagging Mother-In-Law

Written by – Kimberly Green
Messy Marriage Team Member 

My husband hates to go to the doctor.

Sitting in a waiting room with fifteen other people and their germs well past the appointment time, only to be called to wait in a colder cubicle of a room with no pants on for an additional 25 minutes, to see a pill pusher is not his idea of time well spent.

He had a mole on his right cheek which his mother would tell him needed looking at every time he spoke to her. One day he just grew weary of being nagged and made an appointment with a dermatologist who removed the mole the same day. Now it was taken care of and my husband would be free from the tyranny of his mother telling him to go to the doctor. Right?
Not quite.
Two days after his appointment (at 8:45 p.m.), we were getting the kids ready for bed, when his phone rang. I, being very nosy, always covertly listen to my husband’s responses while he’s on the phone in an attempt discern who’s on the other end.

His “yeah’s,” “uh-huh’s” and “I see’s” weren’t giving me much to go on. So I had to try to non-nonchalantly follow him around the house to try to listen because he was pacing, an activity reserved only for anxiety-inducing telephone calls and Laker games which are going unfavorably.

I finally gave up tailing him because his pace had become a power walk and there were long periods where he wasn’t saying anything anyway. Giving up all pretense, I caught his eye and gave him a quizzical look. He responded with a wide-eyed, nervous smile.
A while later, he was sitting on the arm of the couch with his arms folded tightly to his chest. When I recognized the conversation was concluding, I got ready to pounce on him for information. He hung up and I planted myself in front of him. His eyes were still wide, but narrowed. He didn’t look at me. There was a large intake of breath, then “So …” He proceeded to tell me his dermatologist had called to tell him the biopsy they took was definitely cancer.
It was one of those “time stood still” moments, but not in the way I had read about in fairy tales. It’s when everything disappears …
And it’s just the two of you and a prayer standing in a void of uncertainty.
The last time we’d had one of these moments was when we learned I was pregnant with our first child. That was scary and exciting and wonderful.
This was scary and horrifying and, well … scary.
But like that previous “moment,” we knew this was something that could not be undone or ignored. We had to move forward in the truth and the fear of it depending absolutely and completely on God for His peace, wisdom, and guidance.
And as frightening as it was, it was actually a pretty cool place to be.
God brought us through that time with another testimony of His faithfulness, clearer priorities, and an understanding that our bodies are temporary vessels. While the disease erodes what’s physical, who we are is being built up and is eternal.

As much as I’ve seen cancer take from people, for us it truly was a gift that God used to bring us closer to one another as a couple, and closer to Him as His individual children. And as an added bonus, it transformed my mother-in-law from an annoying nag into a wise counselor!

9 responses to “The Gift of a Nagging Mother-In-Law”

  1. Great insight, Kimberly. It’s not very often that people see the positives in what feels more like a “nag.” There really was care and concern behind her words and what’s even greater is how God used the scary parts to draw you and Tony closer together and to Him! Yay God! The Great Redeemer!


  2. Thank you for this wisdom!!! I needed that!


  3. My boyfriend’s mom has the potential to become one serious nagging MIL, but there are times when her wisdom just blows me away.I hope things are going well with his health now!


  4. Oh my goodness! I hope that since it seemed you were talking in past tense, that everything is fine now. It is amazing, though, how the hard things are sometimes the best things for our marriages…I hope you aren’t having another one of “those” days today. Thanks for stopping by my blog, though, and relating to me! It helps just to know I’m not alone in having that kind of a day. 🙂


  5. Thanks Carissa. Yes, he is almost six years cancer free! I hope that if there is another time when he isn’t in the future, I will remember how gracious God was to us, and will continue to be.


  6. Thanks Brittany. He is six years cancer free. For all the times we wished his mom would lay off, there were so many more where her counsel was invaluable! We all had to learn and practice appropriate boundaries. If you haven’t read them, Beth has some great “in law” posts. Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Thanks for the encouragement Charlene!


  8. He does use ALL things for His glory and our good! (But honestly, I wish I would just “get it” so he wouldn’t have to hit me over the head so hard.)


  9. i’ve had lots of moments where the world stands still like that. i love hearing testimonies of how the Lord gets you through and makes beauty out of the ashes!


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