Not all learning comes from books. I’ve been learning some things from my granddaughters. As a parent I soon came to realize that God teaches up plenty from our kids and as a husband it didn’t take me too long to realize that God had plenty to teach me through my wife and the journey of marriage. But grandkids have caught me a bit off guard. I guess I presumed that because we had raised our own children and arrived at the point where they had left the nest and were soaring well on their own that our days of learning much from children was over. But then came Kaiya and more recently Rylee and a whole new era of learning has commenced!
The learning I’m referring to isn’t about new toys or the most recent kid’s TV programs or how to employ an improved diapering system. It isn’t even about mastering the technology of “skype” so we can see them while we talk with them. No…the real learning, the important learning is about how they affect our hearts.
During these “sabbatical days” I’ve had more time to spend with them which means of course that I have gotten more attached to them. In the days leading up to their move to Vancouver they lived with us for a week and as a result saying “goodbye” became that much harder. The house is now so much quieter…the toys are never underfoot and the tupperware cupboard stays neat and organized behind the door instead of all over the floor…I can actually get things done without interruption…when I leave to go somewhere no one cries because they can’t come with me and I can actually read the paper instead of The Barnyard Dance when I sit down. But…there are no squeals of joy…no cries of “Bampa”…no lifted arms…no one crawling into bed with us in the morning or peeking out from around the corner while playing a game of “boo”.
So as I sit in my quiet and well ordered room and write this blog I’m reminded of a few things that this “refresher course” is teaching me. I’m reminded of how important children were to Jesus and of his warning that unless we become like these little ones…these vulnerable, dependant, exuberant kids…we cannot get into his Father’s Kingdom. How is that when we are so smart, so savvy, so well experienced, so cosmopolitan? I’m reminded of how they love to be held and cuddled and played with and how much we grandparents love those moments and I think about how much God longs to take our hand during a walk, have us sit on his lap while he reads us some story that is far below his IQ level. That closeness that develops between grandparent and grandchild is a reflection of the closeness that God desires with us! And the joy at watching them learn to walk and talk and master all kinds of new skills…I’m sure that God has those same moments of joy as he watches you and I make progress in our efforts to become just like him.
More painful insights came when Kelly and Sarrah moved to Vancouver a couple weeks ago. And while they moved for good reasons, to work with a new church plant there, the geographical distance reminds me of another painful reality. What must it be like for God when his kids move away from him? How does he feel when the ones he has loved, the ones who have professed their love and commitment to him choose to put distance between themselves and him? Perhaps we would like to believe that God is somehow devoid of such trivial emotions but if he indeed created us in his own image I think he must feel some of the pain that such separation inevitably brings…a similar sadness and longing to that which we have felt these last few days since our granddaughters moved away.
These “grandkid lessons” have also taught me more about empathy. I resonate with those grandparents who have experienced these exact same feelings. I hurt more deeply for parents who have lost custody of their children or even more dramatically those who have lost a child or children to death in some manner. Compared to these “tearings” my lessons have been slight and temporary but non-the-less my empathy has been sharpened.
So we look forward to a few more trips to Vancouver and becoming much more proficient at skyping and God willing, perhaps even a few more grandchildren in the years ahead! And I’ll try to remember that God is always willing to teach me new lessons, even in the midst of disappointment and painful separations.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Postcard from a Friend
My friend and pastor Rick Scruggs wrote a great blog post a few weeks ago. I thought I would share it with you here.