Last night Janice handed me a card to send to my Mom, congratulating her on becoming a great grandmother. Notice I am acknowledging who the kind person is in my house. The card invited me to ponder this generational shift in our family, one that not only affected my Mom, but us too.
Let me back up. Our oldest son and his wife just had their first child last week. After a somewhat tumultuous pregnancy, Emilia Reese came into this world quite wonderfully and is just beautiful. That event made my boy a dad. I have always delighted in Peter, and have enjoyed his ability to take on whatever task lies before him. So, his becoming a dad is all good, and a blessing for Emilia.
This all means that Janice and I are now grandparents. We all shifted up one generation with little Emilia. I wrote to my Mom that she has now joined the ranks of an elite group of people; just culturally, not everyone gets to be a great-grandparent. Hence it’s a privilege to join those ranks. But that’s not what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the great-grandmothers in my life—not my great-grandmothers, I never met them—but my grandmothers, who became great-grandmothers in my lifetime. They were wonderful people. My paternal grandmother was a lifelong missionary to Costa Rica, the wife of a preacher man, and a teaching nurse that started the best nursing training program in Costa Rica. She was awesome, and we loved each other very much. (I was the executor of her estate.) She was not perfect, like the rest of us, but she was truly remarkable and well known. My maternal grandmother, the stay-at-home wife of a classified ads salesman of a small city newspaper, on the other hand, was perfect. I really don’t think she sinned in the last 20 years of her life. She was not well known, but well loved and admired by those who did.
It is to that lineage that my mom now belongs. Those were special ladies (and their husbands too!). I guess Janice and I are joining their ranks too. Those ladies loved me deeply. They did not spoil me (although my paternal grandmother did give me the coolest and most elaborate gift ever when we first got to Costa Rica) nor sugar me up and then send me home. They both wanted me to learn to love Jesus and they both modelled the life I should follow.
There is no lesson in unconditional love greater than when you have a child. I met Peter as he was delivered. I already loved him with every ounce of my being. My love for him was complete from the get-go. That happened again with the birth of our son Drew. I love him unconditionally. Now Peter gets to experience that— that makes me smile.
Likewise, I am now experiencing love, also unconditional, that is once-removed—I love Emilia Reese
unconditionally. This helps me understand God’s love, and the agape love that God wants me to share with everybody, not just with the ones with the last name Nelson. That’s a greater challenge, of course. Love gets tested even in our families. Imagine that kind of love diffused throughout the church, the community, and the country. But God calls us to that, wherever, whenever and to whomever that might be.
I will strive to live into the models that were set for me. And to model that love for generations to come. That is the discipleship that we have been called to.
Excited to be a grandfather,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7,8