I remember the first time I held my granddaughter in my arms. She was minutes old. As I looked at her, she looked at me. She looked into my eyes, and I into hers. Her eyes were deep and rich, almond shaped brown with deep blue halos that only newborns seem to have. They were wide, I mean, opened wide, and she was wide awake, aware and alert, drinking in her foreign surroundings and locking her eyes with mine.
I do not remember that level of alertness of either of my children at their births – probably because I was so grateful the labor was over. I remember other things – the sounds of their first cries, their smell, fresh from the womb, the feel of their new, supple skin upon mine, the surprisingly strong grasp of their little hands around my finger, eagerly counting fingers and toes, curiously looking to discover gender, the continuing labor to deliver the placenta (yeah, that was something I was not told about ahead of time), the smell of blood, the sounds of others in the room, and the euphoria, the extreme euphoria that this creature, who was not here was now here. Oh, my heart was full!
This was different – now I was the grandparent, a grandmother, in the room, watching my daughter give birth to her daughter. It was magical, life-giving, miraculous, life-changing.
As I looked into my granddaughter’s eyes, I began to sway that sway that women innately do when a baby is in their arms, soft and slow. As we swayed, I began to speak words softly into her tiny soul. Words of blessing and of hope. Words of goodness and of life. Words of gratitude and of joy. And a prayer arose from my lips, a prayer rooted deeply in the desires of my heart. A prayer for her heart and for her soul. A prayer for protection and for guidance. A prayer for goodness and for kindness to follow her all the days of her life.
My prayer, my cry, arose out of the depths of my heart. My heart, touched by evil, harmed and marred. My heart, which found hope and healing through the kindness of others. My heart, which longs to spare her the heart-aches and pains that life will inevitably throw her way.
You see, evil is on a mission. Its mission is to seek out and devour each heart it possibly can. And I do not want that for my granddaughter. I want to protect her from every possible harm. And the truth is, I cannot. I cannot possibly protect her from the fall from the monkey bars, the virus that makes her sick, the words of that bully, the hands of that boy, the betrayal of that friend – all the hurts and heartache evil may throw at her. I can’t protect her from everything – even from me in my own hurtful ways, words, slights, and sin.
What I can do is continue my own journey and work to break generational curses, renouncing the vows I have made in response to the hurts I have experienced.
I can honor my daughter in her new role as mother. I can offer them both my heart of humility and repentance for my own failures, kindness and compassion in their own hurts and sorrows, and encouragement and love – all the days of our lives.
The prayer I can pray, the one more rooted in reality, is the prayer for others to surround them both – loved ones who will lift them up, not tear them down, extend words of truth wrapped in kindness, provide support in harrowing times, and their own prayers of peace and hope in the storms that will come. The prayer that I do offer is for resilience and reliance on God and the willingness to turn toward Him in their pain.
We held each other, my granddaughter and I, in that newborn gaze for what felt like an eternity. An eternity drifted between us, generations upon generations. She was born. My daughter was a mother. I was a grandmother. Oh, the wonder of it all!
PS She is now nine. And her birth day feels like it was yesterday. And my prayer remains the same.
Erin O’Connor’s favorite name to be called is “Grandma,” and she enjoys making crafts with her granddaughter. Erin also has two grown children, lives in a suburb of Chicago, and is a professional counselor. She enjoys mentoring others, reading, writing, and seeing God’s handiwork in nature. Erin is a contributing author of several devotionals published in Quiet Reflections of Hope. Erin has begun her journey of experiencing kindness from God, with others, and for herself.