Although I am a father of four and have become a grandfather of twelve — aged three to twenty-four, it took me a while to even think about what it meant to be a grandparent. One day I became a granddad. It was great, but it wasn’t like I immediately had this strategic role. No job description was distributed by the hospital. Passages from the bible about being a grandparent didn’t just start leaping off the page. The first few years were simple: to hug and to hold (and maybe change a diaper.) Not much strategic about that.
I did experience that being a grandparent was so much more fun than being the actual parent. The grandkids actually listened to me, responded to what I asked them to do, and, most of the time, were fun, loving, and very respectful.
At some point, and I can’t say when, the thought occurred to me that I should be more of a positive influence on the grandkids’ lives and not just float along, going with the flow. (I also knew that I needed to be more patient, more kind, gentle, and loving.) I began to look for ways to be that positive influence. I didn’t do anything big or grand, I just made a decision to look at situations differently and respond differently.
My first big test was when some of us were in the living room and someone yelled, ” There’s water pouring down the ceiling into the kitchen!” I ran to the kitchen and knew immediately that the water was from the upstairs bathroom. I thought that a pipe had burst. I ran upstairs and discovered that my grandson Adam, who apparently had not eaten enough from the tree of knowledge, had left the shower curtain on the outside of the tub, and that was the source of the water.
Then someone yelled, “There’s water pouring down into your basement office!” So, downstairs I ran. What a mess!!! The water had saturated the ceiling tiles, my desk, and the carpet!
I had an opportunity to put my new attitude into practice. I suppressed the yelling instinct, grabbed lots of towels and Adam. We removed the ceiling tiles and together cleaned it up.
My new attitude said “love” without ever having to use the word. He knew it was his fault. He knew I had forgiven him.
Today, I do grandparenting with the intention of reflecting God’s nature. I think the Lord set this whole thing up. I had to be grace and mercy for Adam. It cost me something. But isn’t that the Gospel? It cost God something, too.
Sonny Davis is the grandfather of 12 and lives in Clark Lake, Michigan
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