By Gordon Ovenshine
My family is filled with drama, crying, comedy and love. There are medical people who do medical things, and a hurricane is always lurking offshore and about to make landfall in the living room.
The perpetrator is a baby girl, Thea, my first grandchild.
I never thought I could hold a newborn with such joy, my head a few inches from hers, waiting for the next purse of her lips or coo. But there I am with my granddaughter, so happy I can hardly contain myself. I have become a one-arm man, content to cradle baby in the crook of my arm.
Grandparenting is like revisiting a beachfront vacation spot you loved years ago, only to find that everything has changed. The customs, landscape and language are different. There are new rules for burping, bathing, swaddling and “wombies” for sleeping. It’s wonderful but it takes time to get your bearings. Scores of books, blogs and support groups cater to the “new” grandparent. Newswoman Leslie Stahl recently wrote, “Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of New Grandparenting.” These days, grandparents Google, Binge and Yahoo their way to grandparenting websites with connections to Facebook, Twitter, Buffer, Linkedin, Reddit and SumoMe.
Since her arrival, I have been wondering why I am so enthralled with this second act. As always, I found an explanation in the Bible. In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon says, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” (Proverbs 17:6). God created the institution of marriage and family, which grows to include grandparents. I find it moving that Jesus loved children, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16).
In ensuing years, I know I’ll have lots of chances to exercise my advanced worrying skills. I worry about public schools. I worry about money, violence, war and other bad influences. I never worried about such things a year ago. Now I am a grandfather. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about worry. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). It’s a teaching I need to heed, although I care much less for my life than a little girl in Seattle who is oblivious to my devotion.
I trust Thea, like her parents, will come to an early knowledge of Christ. I focus on scriptures that promise us the victory, such as Romans 8:38. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The boomer generation is cresting. Our kids are having kids, and this grandfather wants to be involved, hopefully with dignity and aplomb (something else to work on). As my family celebrates the arrival of a child, I am reminded that our Savior came as a child, and we’re all children of a loving Father. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1).
I was there when my two children experienced their first minutes of life. I celebrate their accomplishments as adults, a reward beyond compare. A granddaughter is an instant shot of love, an expresso to the heart. I am rewriting my life line by line, buoyed by pure love. Welcome, Thea.