My Marraine. There was no one like her in my world.
I was especially drawn to her sad sweetness. I was too young to understand all the hurt she had been through, and her story of how my very own grandfather had been hurting her through the years shocked me beyond comprehension. Yet she forgave him, thoroughly and completely, just as Jesus forgives us.
I would learn that this forgiveness extended to her grandchildren as well. Take, for example, the time my own brother stole my 500 Belgian Francs, my Christmas present from my grandmother. She was only receiving a small pension at the time, and it was a hardship for her to save up that much money. Yet she freely forgave him. She even forgave him when he began to steal from our own mother!
There was another reason behind her sadness, however. She had suffered much loss in her life. I probably didn’t fully comprehend this as a child, for I had never suffered the kind of loss that as hears to bear; but as I grew older, I realized that she had, indeed, been carrying a number of burdens.
One such burden was her youngest daughter, my aunt. At a young age, this child had been deathly ill. She eventually recovered, but she would always be the black sheep in the family. She ran off at a young age and got pregnant, having two daughters out of wedlock, and eventually she contracted throat cancer and had to have her voice box removed. This meant she breathed through a stoma, a hole in her neck, instead of through her mouth or nose; but this didn’t stop her from smoking. She would simply put her cigarettes up to her stoma to smoke. Cancer took her life early, leaving my grandmother with the responsibility of raising her teenage daughters. Unfortunately for my grandmother, these girls were also on the wild side…Is it any wonder she walked with a slight stoop to her shoulders?
Thinking back on all of this, I feel so much love for my Marraine. Although we had been very close, I realize that it was mostly a lop-sided relationship, one where she gave and I received. What my Marraine really needed was someone who could support her, who could feed into her and encourage, comfort and strengthen her; but as far as I am aware, she didn’t have anyone she could lean on. Nonetheless, she was always my own, personal pillar of strength.
I realize now that the source of her strength was two-fold.
First of all, she had faith. I am ashamed to say that I actually don’t know much about my Marraine’s faith. We talked about God sometimes, and I was always very impressed by how much respect she seemed to have for Him. I also know that she went to mass regularly. But I didn’t know God at the time, and it simply didn’t interest me. When I think back on her, however, I realize that she wasn’t your nominal mass-goers; but rather, someone who was in love with Jesus Christ. With all of the trials she bore, there was only one thing that kept her so strong, yet so gentle and caring: Her love and respect for our Lord and Saviour. She firmly believed the truth of Matt 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)
My Marraine’s second source of strength lay in the fact that no matter how much of a burden she, herself, was carrying, she always had time to help others. She was living the truth of 2 Corinthians 1: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV). She realized that it is in giving that she could best receive. She understood that no matter how much she was called to give of herself, God was there to be her own, personal strength, for: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)
How is your life? Full of troubles like that of my Marraine? Frustrated that there is no one to talk to, no one to help you navigate through the trials? Why not check out her source of strength? Jesus Christ! And also remember that it is in giving to others that we actually find our strength and comfort in God!
In His love,
Director, Answer2prayer Ministries
(To access the entire “Ma Marraine” devotional series, please click here!)