Last week I wrote about the struggles I’ve had in my relationship with my paternal grandmother and what it means to have a “Heart of Grace”. If you missed it, you can read it here: A Heart of Grace
Today, I’d like to share with you a little bit about my other grandmother, or as I called her my Granny. God has put many wonderful women in my life. They have all inspired me to be better, taught me something that I needed to know or lifted me up when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But of all of these amazing women, two stand out in my mind and influenced me the most, my mom and my Granny.
Whether you were young or young at heart, a relative, friend or neighbor, Granny was known as Granny to everyone she met. She loved that title and everything it meant to be a “Granny”. Granny was so many things. She was tough, independent, smart, funny, loving and most of all joyful. No matter what life threw at her, Granny was a joyful person!
At first glance it doesn’t look like Granny had a lot to be joyful about. Her life was not an easy one. When she was just eleven years old, she began cleaning houses for her neighbors to earn money to pay the family’s rent. Her father was an elderly man by this point and could no longer work. Her mother had several younger children to look after, so it was up to Granny to pitch in and do what she could to provide for her family.
Granny married my Papa when she was sixteen. The war had ended and getting married was the thing to do. They had four kids right away. Papa got a job delivering the mail and Granny became a housewife. Their life together was shaping up. But then tragedy stuck their young family. Their daughter, Connie, who I’m named after, died suddenly when she was one month old. Granny and Papa were heartbroken. The same year, Granny lost her grandmother and then her mother. She was close to both of these women and the loss of her child, grandmother and mother in such a short time was devastating to her.
Some of my best childhood memories are of spending time at Granny and Papa’s house. Growing up my brother, cousin and I spent most Friday nights with them. We had great adventures in their backyard, made tent forts in the spare bedroom and I tap danced on their coffee table. I would sit on Papa’s lap and eat Corn Flakes with him and I confided all of my secrets to Granny. When I was with them, I was home. It was a great way to grow up.
But tragedy was about to strike our family again. When I was thirteen, my uncle was murdered. Granny and Papa lost their only son. Two of their four children were gone before their time. The heartbreak was almost unbearable. Granny once told me that losing her daughter, Connie, was horrible, but losing her son was so much worse because they had all of those years together. The grieving process was hard and long. There were many tears, but also many stories shared, and yes, laughter. Through all of this, Granny remained a joyful person within.
How is it possible to remain joyful in the face of such dire circumstances? Because, Joy is not about your current circumstances. It is not a fleeting feeling but rather a state of being. As Christians we receive our joy from the creator of joy.
In your presence is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When David wrote these words he too was facing dire circumstances in his life. But he was able to look past those hard times and see the goodness of God. God promises us that in His presence we will find not only joy, but a complete joy, full of His unending love for us. At God’s right hand is our Savior Jesus. In Him we find salvation, acceptance and pleasure in spite of our current circumstances.
Granny laughed often, but wasn’t afraid to cry. She reminisced about the good times and talked about the bad without fear. She remembered her loved ones who were gone too soon. And she found joy in knowing her Savior. Granny showed me how to do so many things in life, but the one I think of most when I remember her is the way that she shared her joyful spirit with everyone around her.
We may not feel joyful at times. But we don’t have to look far to find it, because God has promised us that in His presence we will have fullness of joy.
If you are feeling that joy is something that is unattainable and you don’t know where to turn, seek God, pray and ask Him to help you. He will show you His joy.