A spiritual journey as Grandpa

Grandpa Carson with his seven grandchildren.

This comment appeared on CHAT Canada, which is hosting a three-part webinar series to explore The Art of Grandparenting, led by Sandi Smoker, beginning this Saturday morning (January 30). See below for more on the series. 

Grandpa, the best title I have ever had.

Jesus has regard for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. The Old Testament often speaks of the importance of raising children to love and worship God. Parents are told that children are a heritage from the Lord, and children are told to obey their parents’ instructions.

But it’s in the Gospels that we discover God’s soft spot for children. He’s gentle and kind with them and passionate about protecting them from harm. Jesus also used them as an example to us to teach kingdom principles and about the spiritual journey.

I have seven grandchildren ranging in age from a granddaughter at one year to my oldest grandson, who is 13. My grands have been a significant part of my spiritual journey. I continue to learn so much from them and share seven ways my grandchildren are shaping and strengthening my relationship with God.

Seven lessons from my grands

Although there are many, here are seven things I have learned or been reminded about through being Grandpa.

    1. Seeing the world through the innocent eyes of a child
    2. Keep asking questions. Don’t stop learning
    3. Determination / persistence
    4. Be joyful
    5. Patience
    6. How to love unconditionally
    7. Life: beginning, middle and end

See the world through the innocent eyes of a child

Roland and I did one of Grandpa’s Big Adventures together. When my grands say that phrase, the emphasis is on BIG because they know this is something special and usually involves a lot of planning!

The adventure is always a surprise and, on this day, when we pulled up to the site Ro’s eyes were as big as saucers. I had brought him to the viewing warehouse for an auction of dinosaurs.

They were animatronics, and life-size, and outside the warehouse were several dinosaurs that would not fit inside the warehouse, including his favourite, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As we walked up and down the rows, Roland would regularly check in with me to let me know they were just “robots” as he called them, so I did not have to be afraid. His innocence was admirable, and I loved his eyes as they scanned artifacts, skeletons and many dinosaurs that were moving and roaring around us. He was taking it all in like someone had transported him into a different world.

I envied how he saw things. Pure, unfiltered, experiencing life to the fullest with his Grandpa. God wants us to walk through life with him in the same way, taking it all in.

Keep asking questions; don’t stop learning

Any of us with children or grandchildren can remember the era when it seems like there are never-ending questions. My oldest, Landon, got in the car with me one day and said, “Grandpa, can I ask you a question?”

“Landon, you can ask me anything, anytime. I may not have the answer, but I will help us find the answer. What’s your question?”

“I don’t really understand the Trinity.”

Imagine the smile on my face realizing that men and women have tried to explain the Trinity for hundreds of years.

Landon reminds me that I still have questions for God that are varied and many, and He does not rebuke me for the asking! Instead, He longs for us to turn to Him with our questions, instead of turning away from Him in our pain and confusion. Our God is big enough to handle our problems. And we might as well ask Him since He knows what we’re thinking anyway, right?

Determination / persistence

Liam is 10. He loves hockey and is quite the player. When I dropped into my kid’s home, I found Liam in the garage with a hockey net with five targets placed across it. Liam has made thousands of shots on that net, perfecting his ability to hit each target every time.

Mac, my other 10 year old grandson, has achieved many belts in Taekwondo. Even throughout COVID, Mac would go out by himself and practice his patterns over and over, and over again.

With his focus and strength, his instructor would hold a board that he would slash through, taking him onto the next belt level. As I watch him practice, I see the concentration and determination, and it is inspiring.

Many things in life take persistence and determination, even as we get older. I would love to have half the persistence of Liam and Mac. If you want things to improve, you have to work at it and be persistent, never giving up.

Jesus said that everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. In Matthew 7:7-11, where Jesus speaks of this, I think Jesus had more in mind than prayer. I believe He was also talking about laziness and persistence.

These grandsons have helped remind me to be persistent in my prayers and determined in my life for God.

Be joyful

My Georgia exudes joy. She makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room. Instead of coming in saying, “Well here I am,” Georgia walks in with “There you are” making everyone feel special. We see a lot of her Grammy in her.

In the New Testament, joy appears as the characteristic mark of distinction of the Christian. Yet I witness many of us, as we age, get very serious.

Mind you; life does get more challenging as we age. But Georgia reminds me of the words from James 1:2, where it says, “Count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

So, joy is a choice, and I want to live my life more like Georgia.

How to love unconditionally

Marielle or my ‘Ellie’ is my very first granddaughter. The Pue family seemed to specialize in boys. This girl has brought a whole new meaning to love for me.

After my wife’s death, (Ellie’s Grammy), God gave my granddaughter a special gift. The family would all be together, and inwardly I would be deeply grieving the loss of Brenda. I hid it well for the most part, but not from my Ellie.

Ellie would look at me from across the room, sense my grief, and quietly come over and give me a hug that held me close. She didn’t say anything and didn’t have to. This happened multiple times and still does.

Ellie is just there to express love to me, with no conditions attached. She didn’t want anything or require me to behave in a particular way. I told her she was an angel sent by God for me, an angel of love, mercy and grace.

Marielle’s name comes from the French diminutive of ‘Marie,’ from the Latin name Mary who, in Christian literature, is called ‘Beloved.’ My Ellie lives as one who is beloved. Beloved of her parents, her siblings, her aunts and uncles and cousins. Most importantly, she is beloved as a child of God and unconditionally loved by God the Father as his child.

Love requires relationship. Simply put, love loves! And in order to do that there must be an object of that love or it is incomplete. I wish to love others as Marielle loves me. No big fanfare, no judgment, but a love that can be expressed in a sacred hug that takes place without words.

Life: beginning, middle and end

This last lesson comes from Brooklyn, my one year old and the baby of the family. With her place in the birth order I cannot help but look at her beginning, and my aging.

In all of our lives there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Once born, we never really know where we are on the road called life.

Because end can happen at any time, the beginning of the road can be the end of the road as well. Brookie, as she is affectionately called, is a new beginning in my family. We love her, and she reminds me that God is a God of new beginnings.

As I am adjusting to aging, I realize if God gives us a new beginning, it starts with the ending of something else. It could be the closed door of leaving your work, your office and your position. However, this end may lead to a whole new purpose for our ‘victory lap’ in this new season and a way to serve God with new energy.

God wants to teach us and show himself to us every day. I am grateful for how I am being guided, encouraged and reminded of is love through my grandchildren. “Grandpa” – best title ever.

Carson Pue is a veteran of leadership and mentoring to build organizations and individuals. Carson is the author of several books, including the bestseller Mentoring Leaders: Wisdom for Developing Calling, Character and Competency (Baker Books). He is CEO of Quadrant Leadership, a Facebook influencer, a keynote speaker, a grandfather and is passionate about intergenerational mentoring.

This comment is re-posted by permission of the author.

CHAT Canada (The Centre for Healthy Aging Transitions) . . .

. . . developed out of an exploration of Older Adult Resourcing in 2012. As partners together – Beulah Garden Homes Society, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, and CAREY – we continue to give a home for CHAT, seed funding, staff time, dialogue, prayerful discernment and creative initiative.  

It is our hope to provide a faith-informed approach to healthy aging and life’s transitions through seminars, denominational workshops, credit courses and a website hub for offering resources and connecting with each other. We believe that these will lead to help and transformation for us and through us to the world around us.

The Art of Grandparenting webinar series will take place on three Saturday mornings: January 30, February 13 and February 27. Here is a description of the events:

You are invited to join us for a webinar series to explore The Art of Grandparenting, led by Sandi Smoker.

Sandi was birthed into the world of grandparenting in 2010 which in the last decade grew to include seven grandchildren. Over this same decade, Sandi entered into graduate studies with Regent College, working toward an MA in Theological Studies.

As she considered a topic for her final project she began to wonder what God had in mind for the grandparent / grandchild relationship, and she began seeking out scholars who thought deeply on the topic. To her surprise, Sandi walked into the land of fairy tales – George MacDonald’s fairy stories to be exact. MacDonald was a 19th century Scottish poet, novelist, fantasy-creator, and pastor who inspired writers such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and Madeleine L’Engle.

She discovered that MacDonald’s character, the divine grandmother, resonated with the invitation she felt drawn to; that of mirroring God’s tender grandparenting heart to her grandchildren. This led to the completion of her degree with an integrated project entitled, the Art and Theology of Grandparenting.

This project will be the foundation of our three-week webinar series. You are invited to join us – using story, conversation and expression – as we explore first-hand the experiences, learnings and wisdom of grandparenting. Together we will consider the legacy that is ours to offer all grandchildren born of love and blood.

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