Generational Opportunities

It was a hello unlike any other in my life except one, the birth of my daughter. This one was the entrance into the world of her first child. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops – a huge, exploding-Nana-heart “HELLO, PRECIOUS BOY!” But when you’re standing inches away from your daughter as she gives birth after 25 hours in labor, a half dozen nurses and doctors are scrambling and the little bundle’s parents are gasping with exhausted joy, you simply whisper, “Hello, precious boy.”

And then you step back from the delivery bed and you silently weep with joy and praise.

The hello to my grandson is more than just my welcome of his life. It is a battle cry to the Lord and to the world that I will be the first Jesus-loving/teaching/praying/praising grandma in my generational line, and thus link arms with his parents to change his heritage and that of his offspring.

Nineteen years ago, Isaiah 61 helped me see – with painfully pried-open eyes – the generational sins and heartaches of my family. I see them with the kind of aching clarity you have when your heart is broken yet the sky is so blue you know without any doubt it is mimicking heaven; an experience both painful in its today reality yet beautiful in its eternal perfecting by the Lord.

Because of the purposes and promises of Jesus in Isaiah 61, I have longed to be a mother and grandmother who reverses the sins of my family’s past; sins of abuse, neglect, abandonment and, most heartbreakingly, life apart from Christ.

he has sent me…
to comfort all who mourn …
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

Every day for me is a hello to the opportunity to repair the ruined cities and the devastations of my many generations.

And every day is a glorious praise to the Lord that I am being given that chance to pray for my grandchild, to tell him that Jesus loves him, to laugh and make silly faces and play on the floor for hours. To love him with a crazy love I never knew I had in me.

I didn’t get that kind of love from anyone but the Lord. No one ever loved me like that. I had two grandmothers; one lived in the same town and was distant and cold. I don’t remember her talking to me, hugging me, kissing me, reading to me, or saying, “I love you.” I don’t even remember her saying “hello” when I walked in her door.

My other grandma lived across the country. I saw her twice in my childhood. She was sweet but scatter-brained, focused on herself. I didn’t have a tender relationship with my grandfathers, either. No aunts or uncles who loved me with a Jesus love. My father was emotionally abusive and my mom allowed it. I have no family member I can point to in childhood or adulthood and say, “He/she impacted my life in these (insert list) positive ways.”

Oh, how I want to positively impact my grandson’s life! It has been my heart’s desire since way before my daughter was grown and married and pregnant. She is my only child. She’s also – selflessly and admirably – a missionary in Haiti, so can’t see my grandson whenever I want. Thus, I’m not comfortable and content in my finally realized role as Nana (and I recognize that God keeps us in that place so we stay dependent on Him). Today, my hellos to my grandson are periodic and my prayer journal is filled with other hello cries: “Hello Lord, can you bring my family back together, somehow, someway?” “Hello, can I be the fully invested grandma I never had?”

Finally, my hellos these days are for all the other Grandmas and Nanas and Mimis and Grannys who feel the same, who are longing for connection across miles or separated through divorce or other family dysfunctions. Our hearts are knit in oneness through the Lord and his desire for us to impact our grandchildren for His Kingdom. We beseech Him, hearts linked, to let us live in a way so as to be remembered the way the Apostle Paul recalls Timothy’s grandmother in a letter to him: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Tim 1:5

I will keep saying those hellos to God in prayer, for me and for you.

Clare Marlow is a former Arizona journalist who now lives on the Florida Gulf Coast, chasing waves and ideas and restoration for her heart and the hearts of others. She is wife to Kevin and mother to Amanda, a missionary in Haiti alongside her husband and Clare’s new grandson, Josiah. She is a founding member and contributor to The Grit and Grace Project, encouraging women through her words to live out of the inner beauty and strength bestowed on them by Jesus.