“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Last week Jacob and I had a conversation that led us into recounting the story of the last 20 months, from Becky’s death to now. So much has happened. So much that has been hard and so much that has been healing and so much that is beautiful. We all continue to heal and find our way through new ways of being with each other as we move forward in the paths the Lord sets before us.
With Jacob’s late August marriage to Cheryl (every time I say, think, or write ‘Jacob’s marriage to Cheryl’ I breathe words of praise to the Lord!) my role with Amity and Dara has changed. I’m no longer going to their house four weekday mornings at 7am so that Jacob can head off to work. I’m not spending most summer days until 4:30 or 5:00 with a couple of the ‘girls of summer’ and I’m not returning to them at 2:30 on a school day afternoon. On one hand I’m thrilled that their lives have taken on the normal routine of an in-home mom who loves them and attends to them. But the flip side of this sudden change is psychic whiplash for me. I’ve had fun (and some trials) with the girls and there is mourning that comes with joy in this change.
The joy is pretty huge – I get to be GRANDMA again! Although I certainly care that Amity and Dara both grow up to be responsible, loving adults, I no longer feel compelled to provide the daily structure and discipline that helps to nurture that outcome. I’ve long felt that Grandparents have a leg-up in getting to lavish unconditional love and grace on the lives of their kid’s kids and now I’m back to that cherished role! Hooray!
I mentioned my conflicted emotions about the girl’s new life to Jacob as we talked. He listened and then made a comment back that included the word ‘sacrifice’ related to the time I’ve given to caring for the girls. That word completely stopped my internal processor. I looked at it for a bit and considered the implications of the word and couldn’t make it apply to what I’ve done. A sacrifice implies pain and loss and giving up. What I’ve had with the girls just doesn’t fit into any of those categories. Rationally I know that my life and Steve’s life totally changed when we chose to help with the girls. In a way it changed back when I said to Becky, ‘don’t worry, if anything happens to you, Dad and I will help Jacob with the girls’, I just didn’t know it yet. But the pain and sorrow involved is related to not having Becky in the picture any more. Being with Amity and Dara and getting to watch the slow healing process unfold in Jacob and the girl’s lives has been a huge blessing and joy. It has been a comfort to me.
As I’ve processed this ‘sacrifice’ I found myself wondering about the sacrifice of Jesus. In a way His whole life was a sacrifice on our behalf. He gave up the glory of heaven and the joy of a relationship with the Father more intimate than we can even imagine, to live an ‘in the flesh’ life devoted to knowing, loving and teaching us. As He watched men and women that He loved grow and change and blossom in relationship with Him I suspect the gain in that season of His life far outweighed any loss. When it comes to His ultimate sacrifice, death on the cross, it is much harder to see sacrifice in a positive light. But I sense how deep and abiding joy and the prospect of future joy and ‘uncluttered by sin’ relationships carried Jesus through those hard hours. Because of Jesus’ everyday living and dying sacrifice we know how to be a living sacrifice, we know how to do what Romans tell us to do!
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1 from The Message Bible