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When Grandparenting is Hard

Legacy Coalition Blog Team May 1, 2023

Written by Jane Larsen, Director of Connections, Legacy Coalition

Our grandparenting journey has been brief. Our oldest grandbaby turned two this winter and our youngest is just a few weeks old. Yet in those 750 days or so, we have already experienced unexpected, deep heartache in a season of just plain hard.

God’s Word tells us we will experience hard times—and should even expect them!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

But take heart…

In our season of hard, these three words have become a reminder that our sweet Savior has overcome the hard.

As I share this, my thoughts toward the Lord are of praise and thanksgiving, because I can already look back on our “hard” and clearly see God’s generous provision of redemption, comfort, and hope.

If you’ve been a grandparent longer than we have, I expect you will read this with a sense of “been there, done that”. In fact, you may be more qualified to share from your experiences.

My hope is to encourage grandparents who face their “hard.” It is a high core value of Legacy Coalition to remind grandparents of the hope we have—because of Jesus.

1. Don’t get stuck.

When adversity comes, it can feel overwhelming. It often seems like it will actually overcome us.

Recently, I was pondering how joyful I felt and was praising the Lord for so many good things taking place in our family. It then occurred to me I felt pretty much the opposite just a few days earlier. I had been gloomy and disheartened. As I pondered a little longer, I recognized a pattern of highs and lows and highs and lows.

We sometimes need the reminder that while we will face valleys, we won’t be stuck there. After each low point that I look back on, a joyful season has followed. I’m so thankful to not be stuck in the valley.

How do we not be stuck? We keep our eyes on Jesus and cling to Him through His Word, prayer, community, and worship. Knowing we will face valleys again, this verse is precious.

“Even though I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4, ICV).

2. Remind yourself of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

In the Old Testament, God repeatedly told His people to “remember these things,” to remember what He had done and what He had taught them. He told them to make visual reminders to recount His goodness and faithfulness. We are no different—we need to do the same thing. It’s vital and effective to recall all He has done for us.

What has the Lord done for you? What has He taught you in seasons of great joy? What might serve as a reminder of that season?

Choose something to help you recall His goodness and faithfulness when you are in seasons of turmoil. It could be a Bible verse on the fridge or in your car, a photo in a frame, or even something small and private like an acorn kept in your coat pocket or, in my case, a rock on the window ledge. Whatever it is, let that visual reminder prompt you to do what He asked us to do—remember!

I love the quote from Joseph Bayly: “Don’t forget in the darkness what you learned in the light.”

3. Know where to keep your eyes.

It’s cliché to say “keep your eyes on Jesus,” yet it’s 100% accurate and 100% necessary.

Think of the great visual God gave in the story when Peter walked on the water toward Jesus. It seems when he took those first steps, trusting Jesus, he walked on the water. Then that big, game-changing word shows up—but. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Peter had his eyes on the storm, and he started to sink. We are prone to do the same thing.

During our hard season, a stretch of days where I was clearly not focusing on Jesus, I shared with a friend that something seemed wrong with me. I said, half-jokingly and half-deeply serious, “If you hear I’m dead, just know I probably had a heart attack.” Oh my. Even writing that now sits very differently. My body felt the stress of our story, and my choice to be independent of the Lord working in His way and His timing had brought many physical side effects.

How do we keep our eyes on Jesus? I don’t know anything better than daily time with Him through His Word—my Bible and time spent talking to Him and listening. The more I do this daily, the sweeter it is.

We live in a time in history with abundant access to spiritual encouragement. My list includes my Bible, prayer, Bible studies (check out She Reads Truth), worship through music in the car, at church, and at home, serving Him by volunteering, and time with Christian community. What does your list include?

How do you keep your eyes on Jesus? Do those things. Do those things. Do those things.

Please reread the last three sentences. ????

4. Play as a team.

For us, our season of hard caused us to reach out for advice. In the early days, we just wanted help, and we needed the wisdom of others who had gone before us and others we knew would pray for us and encourage us to keep our eyes on Jesus.

That meant being vulnerable and sharing what was going on. Oh, the risk in that! It can be so difficult. For the most part (and I did not say all), the people we reached out to responded with empathy, love, support, and, when possible, practical help.

The words we received through emails, text messages, and face-to-face were often like blankets of comfort and hope for my weary and broken heart.

We met in person with our “A-Team”—our circle of friends we have chosen to do life with. As we shared our story over mediocre tacos in the middle of a busy restaurant, we cried. They cried. I felt so completely loved and secure in that moment. I was struggling with my own shame and my fear of others’ thoughts and was met with grace, compassion, and support. They were truly the best representation of Jesus for us—and they still are. They have traveled this journey with us, and they are also sharing in the joyful moments now. We already see God’s redemption story taking place. We invited them to join with us in a hard time and they accepted our invitation.

Find your people and lean in. Invite them to ask you how you are doing. Keep them updated on prayer needs. Let them know your struggles and joys. As they walk the rough road with you, they too will see God’s redeeming love in your life.

In addition to our “A-Team,” we have found great support from our church leadership and community, and a few other experts who have been able to offer important guidance and information. God provides and equips in different ways.

Conclusion

“Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

Oh, I love those words. Surely, certainly, of course—God’s goodness and love is with us always as we abide in Him. Even when we face hard times as grandparents, we can count on these, all because of Him.

More to explore

The Truth Will Set You Free

The weight of a grandparent’s role can be felt immensely. We hold the stories of the past, the wisdom of experience, and a fierce love for the next generation.

Grandparent, Teach Me to Pray (Part 2)

Part 1 of this blog shared four things to keep in mind as you seek to pass prayer on to your grandkids. Here in Part 2, we’ll look at some specific techniques for helping grandchildren learn what to pray for.

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