As we have celebrated Children Sunday and talked about the roles of intergenerational relationship building, it is a great time to introduce to you an article that we invited our very own Henry Lew a few months ago, to write and share about his experience being a grandparent.
Thoughts from Grandparenting
by Henry Lew
On August 24, 2019, my wife and I became first-time grandparents. Because this was the day before we were leaving to volunteer at a youth camp for 5 days, we only managed to have limited visiting time before heading out the next day. Despite the short time, I already felt connected and committed to this newborn. While physically away from her for those 5 days, our hearts and thoughts were with her and we were eager to get back to be with her.
We have had 4 children so I knew what it was to love them, but I did not know how I would respond as a grandparent. What I experienced surprised me. As soon as I saw Keila, as she would be named, I felt an irrepressible attraction and commitment to her I hadn’t expected. It is similar to what happened when our children were born but I didn’t think much about it then because I expected it. I have seen and held many babies in my life, but have never had a reaction like this to them. So I asked myself the question: why? Why would I respond like this to my grandchild? I concluded that it must have to do with the DNA. She has ¼ of my DNA! She has part of my image!
At that point, I started to relate this thought to God’s love for us. Didn’t God make us in his image? I didn’t do a thing about the DNA I have, it all came from my parents. But when God created the first humans, Adam and Eve, God took special care because he was making us in his own image and to cap it all off, he personally breathed life into Adam. In all creation, we uniquely have God’s personal stamp, his “DNA”. His love for us is more understandable to me now because he deliberately set out to make us objects of his love. In us, he sees some reflection of himself, though marred by sin, yet our semblance is still there. In a way, he cannot help but love us because it was his original purpose in making us. Having his image makes us irresistibly attractive to him. Just as babies don’t do anything to be loved except to be born, so God loves us for just being. The love I experienced for my grandchild must only be an inkling of the love that God has for us. After all, his investment in creating us was so much more than my involvement in the birth of grandchild.
What are the most gratifying parts of grandparenting? It is the signs of returned love: the smiles, hugs, and words. It is the evidence of being wanted: arms reaching out asking to be picked up, hands reaching for my hand, asking me to play with her, or read to her, etc. One of my favorite moments was when my granddaughter hurt herself and came running to me for comfort. As I felt her relax in my arms and cry on my shoulder, I realized I had a connection with her. She trusted me enough to come to me for comfort–it is a cherished memory. At that moment I suddenly thought about God. Perhaps that is why there are more lament Psalms than any other category. God loves it when we come to him in our time of hurt and seek him out to be our source of comfort and strength. That is a way we express our love and faith in him. Of course, I cherish the other ways she has shown that I matter to her and God surely is pleased when we show by our lives that he matters. But there was something special and more intimate about seeking comfort from me.
Being a grandparent has taught me how God’s love for us is irrepressible and how he delights in our responses to him–thoughts and actions that indicate our love and trust in him.