I lean against these words every morning as I sip my coffee and meet with God. The old Irish blessing continues within the fold of my chair, the blanket tucked in tightly to cover up both ugly upholstery and a grieving heart: “May you be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings.”
That’s what I hoped my life would be as I followed Jesus and raised my family: poor in misfortune and rich in blessings. Now, old enough to see my children’s children, I am convinced that my richest blessing is what I’ve gained from becoming poor. “Blessed is the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Truth be told, I was not the kind of mom I wanted to be or I thought I was. I often wanted my children to look good so I could look good. For years, I was too busy with church ministry and extended family problems to notice the lonely little girl whose friend moved away or the hurt little boy who had trouble understanding how to make and be a friend. We spent loads of time enjoying extra-curricular activities, but I didn’t take much time to point out the sparrows and squirrels and rabbits and trees that God created for their enjoyment, or help my children understand that their anger didn’t make them bad, but was a hiding place for their pain or disappointment or embarrassment. I was poor, but not in spirit.
Now I have three precious grandchildren. Some say it’s a second chance to do it right. I say it’s a place to finally be poor. To be honest and humble. To be sacrificial and grateful.
When I think I know what’s better for my grandchildren and want to tell my son all about it, I can remember to be humble and prayerful instead. Perhaps I don’t know best.
When I have a morning all planned out, and my sick daughter calls for help, I can be grateful for the fat toddler legs propelling my grandson into my arms and for the relieved look on my daughter’s face. The rest can wait.
When I’m tired and tempted to let the TV babysit the grand-kids for me, I can ask God for a bit more energy to create memories that will make us smile – or cry – together someday. Our days are numbered.
And when my daughter-in-law drops by unexpectedly, as she did today while I was busy writing about how sacrificial I want to become (sigh), I can put aside my agenda for a few minutes, consider it a holy interruption and greet her warmly. She is a gift.
These later years, I want to remember what I’ve lost and what I’ve learned, to find peace in who I was not and in who I am now. I want to trust that Jesus, “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” is not only for me, but for my children and my grandchildren, too. Thanks be to God!