Saturday, October 3, 2009

Generations.

Both Joshua grandparents and all the grandchildren were gathered around the dinner table tonight. Pop-Pop, at age 80, held little Jonathan, aged 13 months. 79 years between them. So much life; so much experience.

It was a lighthearted time. Not a time for reflection or for pondering the future. Instead, a time of laughter and celebration -- mainly of Jonathan's new little life. At our ego-inducing insistence, he ran through his entire repertoire of tricks: from his two-fingered snapping, to his collection of creative animal noises (not many 13-month-olds can switch off between and a wolf and a tiger like he can. We made him keenly aware of that fact by our enthusiastic applause.).

In the midst of the excitement and hilarity, however, I still managed to notice something I hadn't noticed before. I am not a separate entity from my extended family. Not just by means of my appearance either. (I'm beginning to look more and more like both sides of my extended family.) But somehow, I've also inherited mannerisms, methods, pet peeves. The list is almost endless.

Okay. For one thing, my grandmother keeps her house really clean. I hadn't noticed that before. Why? Probably because I got the "clean bug" from my mom's side of the family too. I grew up in a clean house. My surroundings have always been painfully clean. Clean and neat. This time, I noticed it. And was thankful.

My grandmother is also a workaholic. (So are all my grandparents, actually. And my parents.  In the best possible way.) She has this reputation for making massively-massive meals with several main dishes. (Think at least six here.) She'll have three or four on the tables, along with sides, when everyone is first seated for prayer. But after the "amen," she's up and bustling again.

I'm positive -- she doesn't touch her plate until everyone's had fourths at least. She cooks, she serves, she refills dishes, she serves again.

During dinner, I leaned over to my sister and whispered, "I think we come by it honestly," and she laughed.

So, it's finally happening. I'm beginning to see reflections of myself in the vast array of family spread out before me. Growing up (and throughout my teen years), I assured myself that I loved my family, but I was very different from them. I would never be like any of them when I grew up. Yet, somehow, at the end of the day, (when I'm mostly grown up--or doesn't that ever truly happen?) I'm not so very unlike them at all.

And, on top of it all, somehow, I'm kind of really thankful for all they've given me.

I think I've taken the whole Godly heritage thing for granted. Both of my grandfathers were pastors. Which, by default, meant that both of my parents were PKs. I was steeped! Like, seriously steeped. I was the kid who prayed the prayer at five years old and was memorizing entire chapters of the Bible before I was out of elementary school.

I knew the right things to say. I knew the gospel. I knew how to lead someone to the Lord. When I was five, I used to hand out New Testaments to the other kids my age and tell them how to "ask Jesus into their hearts". I knew the routine. No one could dispute it.

As I grew older, however, I realized that my family had something different from what I had. There was heart behind the things that they did. They didn't do the things they did because of how they looked, or how it made other people feel, or what it gave them in return. They did it because they loved the Lord.

I was like one of those people who tell the "Well, I talked to a guy who knew the woman who delivered papers to the person who used to be the foot surgeon of Bill Clinton's neighbor when Bill was five."

I was constructing "wow" stories for how I was best buddies with Jesus, but somehow, when it all spilled out, it wasn't so impressive after all. Anyone listening could tell in an instant that there was no reality behind it. For sure, nothing tangible.

My family changed that.

Grandpa Joshua loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, strength and mind. Everything, somehow, is an object lesson -- an arrow pointing back to Christ. The oddest and most frustrating of circumstances remind him of hymns that he will sing with the utmost abandon. Through all kinds of trials, he has remained staunchly committed to the Lord and to the people he serves. That's an example I can trust. That's an example I can try to follow.

And Grandpa Owens.... He is the most impressive example of a man who has learned to die to self. (That I know to this day. Really.) Not only did he father, nurture, and disciple 9 children (without thinking of his own needs), but he was always a man of high and self-forsaking conviction. Saying "no" to himself and his own desires was something he did--not because it was easy (when is that ever easy?)--but because he knew it was what his Lord required of him if he were to lead a Godward life. You'll never hear him indulge in careless joking or sarcasm or unprofitable conversation. His desire is that the Lord's will would be made evident in every aspect of his being. Nothing in his life, conversation, character, or conduct has ever led me to believe otherwise.

And so, I am blessed. I have a Godly heritage. I am reaping the things that my grandparents and their grandparents have sowed. Excellent things.

Did I have any say in the matter? No.

Do I deserve it? I couldn't. Not in a thousand lifetimes.

And yet, the Lord was pleased to grant it to me. Why? Maybe because I have a responsibility to my children and to the generation that will come after them. I don't take that responsibility lightly.

And maybe--just maybe--someday, I'll be that 80-year-old grandparent, rocking my little grandchild on my lap and another granddaughter, sitting across the table will be reflecting on her life.

And maybe--just maybe--she'll write a blog post like this.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

So inspiring! Thanks.

Sherri said...

You are blessed to have that heritage. I don't. Is it possible for someone who doesn't have a godly heritage to start over with there family? I hope so!!!

Katherine said...

To answer your question, Sheri, yes I think it is possible. The Lord is always gracious and he will give you what you ask for. God's best to you and your family!

Candace said...

Aw, what a sweet and inspiring post!

Randy said...

Never underestimate how much you'll become like you're family. I always said I'd never become like my father and now I am the same man. Its a blessing and curse.