A young man set to work on building a shed and was joined by a neighbor who offered to help. As they worked, they occasionally talked about life and marriage.
The older neighbor had been married many years and had gone through counseling with his wife after the loss of one of their children. He spoke about the process of grieving and loss, and how women faced grief differently from men. For example, he had buried himself in his job and his wife had cried on half the neighborhood’s shoulder for comfort.
The young man was very interested in the subject, for his wife had recently lost a very close relative and was difficult to understand. He couldn’t keep up with the recent emotional swings, let alone understand them. At first she seemed to accept the loss because she didn’t talk about the loved one, or seem very impacted at all.
Without warning she had become increasingly agitated and touchy. He had found her pacing the hallway one night, unable to sleep or explain why she seemed so angry at him all of the sudden. The neighbor advised him to buy his wife a nice gift and some flowers, and to tell her he was very sorry for how poorly he had handled the situation thus far. He was then to offer that if she needed to talk, he was there to listen and support her. The young man took the advice, and was pleased with the response from his wife.
A week went by and then her mood dramatically changed again. He sought the advice of the neighbor on how to help her, for she cried at moments that made no sense to him, and told him the same stories and said the same regrets over and over. It was difficult to know how to respond in such cases, and he was very aware of his inability to comfort her or say anything right during this time.
The neighbor nodded and observed that the situation seemed quite severe, for the man seemed to have done everything right. He couldn’t explain the new behavior as normal or anything like his experience. They discussed what the young man had tried; listening and even buying her more flowers. The neighbor then made a startling suggestion. The man should make an appointment with their doctor immediately without his wife’s knowledge, for she was obviously traumatized and needed medical treatment right away. He added that this was beyond the man’s ability to fix; and he should prepare himself for the worst, that she may need to be hospitalized or at least drugged.
The husband went home and did as he was told, taking the situation very seriously. He made an appointment with their doctor right away, but not sharing this with his wife felt wrong somehow. He decided it was time to let her family know about the situation. He called his mother-in-law to inform her that her daughter might be in need of mental health help, explaining the circumstances and repeating what the neighbor had told him.
To his surprise he was informed that there was nothing further from the truth, her daughter was progressing through the grieving process much faster than the rest of the family, nothing more. His mother in-law was certain of this, but invited him to confirm it with a counselor or professional before he subjected his wife to the humiliation of what he now proposed to do. The man did, and was relieved to discover his wife’s responses were normal.
Moral of the Story:
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
In this story the neighbor appeared to have all the information and to be a reliable source. In Matthew 2:8 we read that Herod the Great was probably quite convincing to the wise men. He had taken the time to first find out where the promised Messiah would be born so he would appear sincere. His words said that he had every intention of handing over his title of power to this new Messiah, that he just needs confirmation. History tells us Herod the Great was believable enough to convince the Roman senate to give him (a non-Roman) power and the title ‘King of the Jews’. Herod was also willing to kill his favorite wife and two sons just to retain his own power, even when he was very sick and aware of his own mortality.