Blog Article

The Grandparent I Never Really Knew

Written by Sylvia Schroeder, blogger of When the House is Quiet

“Sie ist zu klein,” I can almost imagine my last Grandpa saying, his words spread thick with a German accent. “She is too small.”  

I never knew any of my grandparents. I don’t honestly know what it was like when he said those words. I can’t remember my first tottering steps, but from an old photo and my mom’s stories, I have my personal tiny picture of the last living grandparent I didn’t really know.

Mom told me her dad saw me take my first steps. Of course, I don’t really remember it, but sometimes my mind tricks me, from old photographs, cracked and somber replicas of a time long ago.

An imagined living room in an old clapboard house emerges from those sepia-colored pictures. It’s situated on the main street of a small Kansas town. Men in dark suits and long ties group about the room, leaning against an old credenza, talking, and listening to one another. The sounds in the room, the Deutsch conversations, and the smells from the kitchen are all part of my childhood concoction. How my mom described it is how I see it.

In the bottom corner of this faded mind’s image, Mom’s wide-open arms invite me to pick up little feet and walk into them. And behind me, letting me go from his own arms, I picture a delighted Grandpa, amazed at the accomplishment of a tiny granddaughter beginning to walk.

Whatever heritage is ours, known or unknown, honorable, or dishonorable, God’s plan cannot be thwarted.

There are lists and lists of grandparents in the Bible. Some good and some bad, poor and rich, kings and peons. Yet, God was sovereign over them all.

Sometimes I look at others and feel so inadequate, as though those grandparents are better suited to the role, nicer, and more accomplished. God takes us from where we were and brings us to where He wants us to go. Our heritage, or seeming lack of, has purpose.

Here are just a few examples from Scripture of the important influence of a grandparent.

  • King Joash received the award for having the worst of all rotten grandmothers of the day. The boy-king Joash escaped murder at the hands of Grandma Athaliah, by God’s mercy and divine plan. 
  • Moab, the enemy territory of Israel, brought us Ruth who became the great-grandmother of King David. She’s listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
  • Timothy’s faith, built from the instruction and legacy of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, played an instrumental part in the early church.  

As we look at our own grandchildren, our hearts burn with desire for them to know Jesus and follow Him. But the chain neither begins nor ends with those of our own blood and DNA. The testimony of a godly example spreads even wider.

Although I have no real memories of my own grandparents, I am thankful for those sweet, wrinkled hands that have loved as a Grandparent would. They have stretched toward me giving examples from more years and greater experience. They were someone else’s grandparent, but they managed to make me feel like I also had a place of belonging.

For my first-grade Sunday School teacher who shared the gospel clearly, I am grateful. I’m thankful for an older friend who wrote me about her own walk with Jesus while I, a young mom, struggled far from home. I am honored to know heroes who went where Christ was not known, servants who mucked through difficult things for something much greater, and those who modeled a focus beyond what they could see. I watched them. I observed Christ in them.

These dear saints are the models God put into my life. I’m not a perfect Mom or Grand-Mom, nor do I have the Grand-Pedigree many have, but Jesus has lovingly put into my path, as He has in yours, others from whom we can learn.

To walk alongside other grandparents on the journey and to stand in the role where God places us is also a Grandparent’s privilege.

The Apostle Paul isn’t known in Scripture as a grandparent, but he is remembered as one who brought others along, taught, and discipled them in the faith. He takes us on a short summary of his life in Philippians 3 where he sifts through the rubbish, defines goals, and accents purpose.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Phil. 3:12-14 NKJV

Paul’s words are a good summary for those of us with the title of Gramma and Grampa, with or without an ideal or sure heritage. They are also an incentive to be the kind of grandparents to others, we wish we had known.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to share those old photos and accompanying stories with your grandchildren. They do indeed help connect our grandchildren to those who went before them. May they continue to pass along those stories to their grandchildren!

1 thought on “The Grandparent I Never Really Knew”

  1. Sylvia, thanks for sharing. We are similar – I never knew my gp’s because they all had died by the time I was born. Thxs for putting a light on the fact that even tho our families may not fit in the little box filled by most, the legacy of those before, those “fill-ins” around us, and our own legacy all have precious purpose and value in the hands and plans of God. Blessings, Toni

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