Grandchildren are the delight of many of our lives. I’ve never given birth, but through marriage have a grandson, Matthew, who rocks my world. Watching his development from child to manhood has been one of life’s incomparable blessings. The greatest lesson in love available on the planet.
Babies offer little when they enter this world. In some ancient cultures they were considered a nuisance for obvious reasons: crying at will, the need for profuse nurturing and diaper changing, demanding time and constant attention.
Yet, today, watching that vine magnificently grow from the branch and finally blossom is one of life’s breathtaking treasures. A lifetime of heart flutters is surely worth a few tears. And in my case, to date, there have been no tears.
The relationship we have with children and grandchildren reminds me of our relationship with our heavenly Father. “Nothing,” He says, “can separate us from the love of Christ.” And in 1 John we see that, “We love because He first loved us.” Sounds a lot like the parent/child relationship. Yet, God’s love exceeds even our own. That’s hard to conceive when we consider our children.
As I sleeplessly waited for Matthew to come home from an all-night graduation party, I reminded myself there was Someone who loved him more than me. Even more than his mother, who awakened at 5:30 a.m. I then placed Matthew in God’s capable hands. I would like to say I immediately went to bed. But, no, like our abiding Father, I waited. The payoff came when I saw Matthew’s grinning, delighted face. Definitely worth the lack of sleep.
Below are the affirmations I shared with Matthew as he embarks on that impressionable life venture from high school to college. Young people, even at this age, believe what they’re told about themselves. Lift them up with your words! I pray Alan’s and my remarks affirm his character, instill hope and faith, and assure him of his value and worth, not only from those who love him, but to himself and to his destiny.
What a wonderful man you’ve become, someone we’re proud to call Grandson. We’ve watched you navigate these 18 years (not as closely as we’d have liked) with grace and wisdom, mindful of others, considerate and kind. Sort of like the Eagle Scout you are.
Going into the world without the ability to reach out and touch those who love you most is exciting. And a tad scary. (Okay, more scary for us than for you) Just remember that all of us—parents, grandparents, and aunt—are just a phone call away, and we would scale mountains, albeit slowly, to get to you. Whatever you need. Wherever you are.
We really believe you can become whatever you choose, and whether that’s an astronaut or a janitor, we support you. We will love you if you become President of Microsoft or Chief Custodian for your father’s law firm. What should drive you is love. And not love of money. But rather love for what you do, love for yourself, and for others. And yes, you should love yourself. You might not always choose wisely or say words of grace, but in your soul, love your person. Give yourself room to grow and make mistakes, because mistakes will come. Some will seem gargantuan! But the future is just around the corner. Wait two weeks. Mistakes and heartbreaks always lessen.
People aren’t always kind when we venture outside our support groups, but be self-assured. Walk away from inflammatory situations. Never throw the first punch (and never throw any punch if you can help it.) Speak up for the underdog, hang out with the underdog, and if you are the underdog, well, just know you aren’t the first.
Be willing to laugh at yourself. Humor goes a long way with everyone. (Except some college professors.) You have a wonderful sense of humor. Witty and funny. Somewhat droll. It’s very appealing.
Always be the leader you are, Matthew. Leaders aren’t necessarily the people in the front, sometimes they’re in the rear. Sometimes they’re the one saying “No.” Sometimes they’re derided for not going along with the crowd. Leaders are the ones others instinctively trust when they need an honest answer, an important answer. Leaders may not always be recognized initially, but they will always be recognized eventually. And you are a leader, Matthew.
The best piece of advice we can give you is to be yourself. Let your new potential friends see your personality, your kindness, your fairness. Trust your knowledge, but never flaunt it. (Especially with Grandparents!) Unbelievably, your instincts have been sound since you were about three!—so if something feels right or wrong in your gut, lead with that. Opportunities for mischief and even danger, may confront you, but regardless of what others do or think, trust your own instinct and follow it.
And, Matthew, go with God. You may hear that God doesn’t exist, but God is closer than your cell phone. Someday people will recognize that it takes more faith to believe this universe came into existence spontaneously than it did by a Master Creator. You are no afterthought, Matthew. God blew breath into your lungs before you entered your mother’s womb. Even before you began that scramble to be the fertilized egg! You have purpose and a destiny that is greater than you can imagine. And you will achieve it from behind a president’s desk or from pushing a broom. Doesn’t matter.
Lastly, you have a fan club! Grandparents and an aunt who adore you. We trust you implicitly. We know your judgement is sound, your motives are never to harm, your intentions may contain rowdy moments, but are basically as pure as an eighteen-year old’s can be. (So we’re a little deluded. Let it ride.) And we hope you’ll keep us in the loop as to your activities much as your parents have done.
You’re a man now. That’s difficult to write and harder to believe. But know this: men aren’t born, boys are born, and not all boys transform into men. Some defer to their juvenile instincts until middle age and beyond. You weren’t a juvenile when you actually were a juvenile! You’ve always had empathy, wisdom, conscience, and faith. We think your Mom and Dad must’ve found you in the angel wing of the hospital. And, yes, we’re prejudiced, but then we’re in a very large club, as many people believe you’re special.
Be kind to yourself at college, Matthew. Continue to believe the best of yourself and others. Our prayers and love go with you. We ask God’s blessings over you always and will continue to pray and believe that the path you find (along with the right woman!) will fill you with the contentment and purpose befitting the precious gift from God you are to us.
Grandpa and Nana Karyn