This is a very personal, heartfelt, and difficult post. So, I am going to spoil it by telling you that in the end, GOD. Yes, God the Father, through Jesus, through Scripture, through the moving of his Holy Spirit, comes through. As He has done in the past, as He continues to do, God Almighty has shown himself to be extremely real, personal, and purposeful. The lesson I am learning has brought pools of tears; both of extreme frustration and of humble gratitude. I am not too old to admit my weaknesses, nor bare my soul if it will potentially draw you closer or encourage you more in your walk with God.
Wrestling with my own selfishness has brought me to a state of genuine depression. In the last few weeks, every morning I would wake up with an increasingly heavier heart, and by Fridays, a dread of the next 2 days lay on me like a 300 lb. weight. You see, I have accepted the responsibility of caring for my 6 month-old granddaughter for those days while my daughter goes to work. What began as an exciting opportunity that most grandparents don’t get, has become a stressful, unhappy chore.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,”
Baby Riley, my first grandchild, is a gift directly from God. She is beautiful, fully formed, healthy, full of energy, enjoys jumping and bouncing, and loves to snuggle. Her little voice when cooing and learning sounds like giggling, melts me to the core. In spite of these wonderful aspects of having my granddaughter living with me, and having a front row seat to her growth, changes, and being able to hold her whenever I want to, it is a real mental, emotional, and spiritual struggle for me.
Eight months ago, our daughter moved home after getting out of the Army because she was pregnant. My husband and I agreed to this and to help her with the baby until she could get back on her feet. When her baby girl was 5 months old, my daughter went back to work part-time, with me willingly agreeing to babysit for those 2 work days. What I wasn’t prepared for was a child who continually spit up resulting in going through about 10 bibs, 10 burp cloths, 3 changes of clothes, who also has evening colic, is badly teething, and is unconsolable at times every day. Her need to be held much of the time, especially in the evenings, had become physically tiring, and listening to her regular loud cries wore down my emotions to the point where I just left the room, or would just scream. I became concerned that my frustration and anger would boil over, leading to someone getting hurt.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
I would pray for patience and a softer heart, but as each day brought the same loud continual cries and needs and spit up, my tender, soft, Grandma heart began to harden, resulting in some resentment of baby Riley living in our home.
“But Pharaoh…sinned yet again and hardened his heart…”
I wanted my house back. I wanted my time back. I wanted my living room to be cleared of the clutter than now overtook it: a pack-n-play, a bouncy seat, toys, burp cloths, a baby chair, and constantly more dirty towels. I wanted my freedom to write blogs whenever I felt led, to exercise when I wanted to, to run errands without worrying about leaving the girls. I desired peace and quiet, where I can have my morning devotions, listen to my christian music, and go about my day without this cloud of concern of “should I give my daughter a break?”. Oh the irony of hypocrisy.
At this point, you are probably wondering how could I possibly feel this way, or maybe even judge me. That’s OK. If the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t understand how you could respond to your own grandchild in a like manner either.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Then, GOD. As I was driving to church early this last Sunday to volunteer my time and skills as a camera operator, I prayed, “Lord, use me today to bless someone that needs it.” God pointed out that He had already given me that someone, and she was in my own home.
God had prepared our pastor’s message just for me. Guess who it was about? Not Jonah, as I would have predicted, who initially ran away from a mission that God had called him to do, but Moses. Moses had been chosen by God: to survive the murders of Hebrew babies, to be raised by Egyptian royalty, and then to spend 40 years in the wilderness quietly tending to his father-in-law’s sheep. Then he brilliantly revealed himself to Moses, giving him instructions to return to Egypt: to face Pharaoh on His behalf to set the Israelites free from slavery and then lead them to God’s previously promised land.
Moses gave the Lord many reasons why he should not be the guy to carry out this plan. Little did he know that God had foreordained his entire life for this, including spending another 40 years in the wilderness as a leader to His own people and to act as a conduit for God. Moses’ arguments of: who am I to do this, who are you, they won’t believe me, they won’t listen to me, I stutter and cannot speak well, all fell on God’s ears. How did the Lord respond? By reminding him of who He was, that He has the power to get the job done, and that He will be with Moses the entire time.
Moses’ task was not about himself, nor what he could do, but about God. If Moses would just trust that the Lord would take care of every area that he had no control over, such as the many miracles, Pharaoh’s heart, and the how’s and where’s of getting to their final destination, then he wouldn’t have had the fear or anxieties of such a huge responsibility. He needed to trust in who called him for such a time as this. He soon learned that God had a far greater plan than just freeing the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians, and that He chose to include Moses – a man who had doubts, fears, and stuttered – to bring His plan to fruition.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, … it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered….”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
So Sunday morning, while operating a camera, tears streamed down my cheeks. The Lord had spoken directly through my pastor to me, and I felt His words sink in deeply, softening my partially hardened heart. He told me that I had been foreordained to be a caregiver of my granddaughter, and He asked me to accept and fulfill this mission to the best of my ability.
This young, precious life has been entrusted to me to care for, to feed, to encourage, to keep clean, to giggle with, to hold, and to love as Jesus has and does consistently love me, in spite of my continual cries, demands, and a dirty heart.
From now on, my perspective will not be from my own selfishness, but from God’s; recognizing that my granddaughter has been placed purposefully in my care for a season, by the Lord God, and that He will supply my needs to carry out this task, just as He did for Moses.
Food for thought: What area of your life are you selfishly holding too tightly to? Has God called you to fulfill a task that you just don’t want to do? If you refuse to follow God’s calling, what will be the outcome?
Fun facts: 1. There are over 70 million grandparents in the US. 2. 72% of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important role in their lives. 3. 63% say they can do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own. 4. 68% think being a grandparent brings them closer to their adult children
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Baby Riley