If there is one thing that I will always remember about my grandma (who is blessedly still alive by the way) is her ability to endure. This is a woman who grew up on a farm, the oldest of nine children, mother of three, paralegal in the same law firm for over 30 years, married for coming up on 60 years this year, member and teacher at the same church for over 20 years, participant in various organizations (often in leadership roles), as well as part-time caretaker of several nieces, nephews, and grandchildren and of her own household. She is in her late 70s and still does her own ironing and vacuuming. As long as she is physically able, she will stay up til the late hours of the night working on housework or her Sunday school lesson. She’s never accepted her second best; she always gave 100% at whatever she did, whether it was work, home, family, vacation, prayer, Bible study, or putting on a church function. And she’s never complained about any of it. She has always considered what she does to be a joyful contribution to her family. The number of people I’ve met who are as selfless and happy about being that way I can count on one hand. The number who are that way and also unbelievably patient are quite possibly a smaller number.
One such example of my Grandma’s Christ-like character shone through when I was an infant. I don’t remember the moments of course, but I’ve been told about them from different people. Both of my parents worked multiple jobs when I was a baby, so my grandparents, with whom they were living for a time, would look after me often. Unfortunately for them, I was a pretty colicky baby with a desperate need for mama. From the day I was born (no literally), I screamed ceaselessly until I was with her. No one else was a decent substitute. I was the kid you did not want to have in the nursery. So if I woke up while mom was gone to work (which I usually did), Grandma got an earful… or two.
But where most people (including me, I’ll admit) would hold a child for a while until the howling gave them a headache or frustrated them to the end of their nerves, she continued to hold me close, rocking, dancing, singing, repeating to me over and over, “I’m right here. I’m not going to leave you.” She had made up her mind to get through to me the fact that if no one else was there, if everyone else had left me, if I was ever I felt alone or scared, she would be there for me. No matter how hard I fought against her, no matter how much I complained about not having what or who I wanted, she wanted me to know that she would always be there to comfort me and counsel me and dry my tears. That right there folks is devotion. That is endurance. That is Christian love at its core.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be completely selfless, giving of ourselves to others with no expectation of return on investment. How many of us actually live it out though? I fall to impatience, frustration, laziness, and tiredness often enough. And there have been moments when I look at my grandma, who is 56 years older than me and pushing through worse physical issues than I’ve ever had to deal with to get things done, when I am ready to quit after the first or second little difficulty. It’s this quality of character that inspires me about the persecuted Church. It seems that the people who have it worse are more willing to push through their circumstances and achieve their goals. But why is that? Because they purpose in their hearts to do it, just as my grandma purposed in her heart to make me understand that she would always be there for me.
What am I purposing in my heart to achieve?
What are you purposing in your heart to achieve?