Have you ever spent time with someone who’s physical presence made you feel loved? Or even just hearing their voice gave you a sense of being loved. For me that person was my Grandma Bea – my dad’s mother. I didn’t spend much time with her growing up. I only have a handful of memories of her from my actual childhood even though she only lived about two hours away from us. I’m not really clear as to why we didn’t spend much time together during my growing up years. I’m sure there were reasons. I know that my own mother is extremely introverted and and social gatherings beyond our small immediate family were few and far between. Also, my Grandma Bea was still busy raising a houseful of young daughters during my childhood.
In my early 20’s I started going to visit my Grandma Bea. At the time I was a young mother and my parents had just divorced, rather unexpectedly to us kids. We were all adults at the time but it remains to this day one of the most life altering experiences I have ever walked through. (Side note – fight for your marriage – I was in my early 20’s when my parents divorced and it was still devastating.) At the time, I was desperate for a mother in my life. I needed someone to encourage me as I was just learning how to walk the road of motherhood myself. Grandma Bea stepped in. She filled that void in my life and I am forever grateful.
I would drive up to Barstow from Southern California to visit her. Yes, Barstow. Not exactly a popular weekend get away destination. Despite this fact, I loved my weekends there. It was during those visits that our friendship began. I was not walking with the Lord at the time and she NEVER once made me feel “less than”. She just welcomed me in. She listened and she shared stories from her own life. Stories about her seasons of hardship. Stories about her failures, insecurities and her fears. She would share how the Lord showed up for her time and time again. She would encourage me and point out the things I WAS doing right, not where I was failing. I don’t think I have one memory of her telling me what I was doing wrong. Really, not one! Make no mistake, I was doing a lot wrong in those early years. She never focused on that. She never gave that breath. She just loved me. Over the course of several years our relationship grew and she really became one of my best friends.
Here’s the thing, being LOVED like Christ, makes God’s love believable! Grandma Bea knew this. She knew it and she poured out His love onto me. Freely and without judgement.
Even more importantly, she new that God loved HER! It was only because she was loved that she herself could love freely. And she did. She loved so well. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends all knew they were loved.
I am so grateful for her living example – it allowed me to understand His love for me and also taught me how to give love freely. Grandma Bea knew the key of staying connected to the vine as John 15:5 says. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” She was not perfect and had experienced many hardships in her lifetime but she stayed connected to the vine. As a result I was able to learn to stay connected to that same vine. There is no greater gift!
Toward the end of her life she commented on what she hoped going to heaven would feel like. She said she wanted it to feel no different. That she had lived her life in such a way that when she got to Heaven, it would feel the same – that she was so closely connected to Jesus here on Earth, that seeing Him in Heaven would just mean she could see Him. The seeing Him part would be the only difference. I now strive for this every day. I have no doubt that it was exactly like that for her.
I miss my Grandma Bea every day! Tears are falling down my face as I write this. I so look forward to the day I get to see her again. She faithfully prayed for me from the day I was born and I am sure she is still praying for me today. Her example of Love is one I strive to live out myself.
I wish I could say that it is as easy for me as Grandma Bea made it look. It isn’t, and maybe it wasn’t for her either. It is her example that fuels my words and actions. I pray that I can honor her in all that I do here on this side of Heaven. I pray that somehow my words of encouragement allow others to feel as loved as her words made me feel.
So, if no one has told you today, know that you ARE LOVED and know that you are doing a GREAT job in whatever it is that you are doing!