Saturday, February 5, 2011

“It is the end of days,” sayeth Grandpa

Kids say the darnedest things. So do old people.

My grandfather is a God-fearing man. Since we live several times zones apart and I don’t make it back home as often as I used to, I don’t see or talk to him very often. So I was surprised to find a package from him on my front porch last week.

Inside the box, I found a cute baby quilt displaying a large teddy bear. A card accompanied the gift. My grandfather’s wife wrote a sweet note on one side, explaining how her daughter had made the quilt before she died, and she wanted to keep the quilt in the family. I got a little teary-eyed reading her note, which I admit happens a little more often than usual these days.

On the other side of the card, my grandfather wrote a note as well. He started out congratulating us on the baby. Then he said something I didn’t expect.

“I wish the best for you both. This old world is in bad shape, as you already know. I hope you are still going to church and serving the Lord, for I believe He is coming before long.”

Whoa. A little heavy for a “congrats on your baby” card, don’t ya think? I mean, is he happy we’re having a baby or not? That’s like reminding someone of the climbing divorce rate on their wedding day, or telling a college kid at graduation that he’ll never find a job in this economy. In the moment when you’re the most hopeful and feeling full of promise, the last thing you want is for someone to remind of you of reality. You just want to relish the bliss for a little while.

However, his heart is in the right place. You’d have to know my grandfather to understand. He’s a devout Pentecostal. He loves his family and doesn’t want any of us to suffer eternal damnation. I’m convinced he regularly works himself into the prayer sweats begging God to save our mortal souls. As misplaced as his statement was, I know it came from a place of love and concern.

On the rare occasion I see my grandfather, he always asks if I’m going to church. I don’t have the heart to tell him that I don’t go anymore. So I just say that I've tried out a few, but that I’m still looking for the one that fits. That used to be the truth, but not anymore. I wish I could say that I feel guilty when faced with this question, but that’s not true anymore either. Instead, the flight response sets in, and I just want to avoid a theological discussion, especially with someone as well-practiced as my grandfather. For him, such conversations are a sport, and he is the reigning champion. Any defenses I have for my position would be no match against him. He would trap me into a sermon long enough to make up for all the ones I’ve missed.

I appreciate my grandfather’s concern and wish I had the words to reassure him. Matt and I are actually doing the world a favor by having this baby. I believe LBK will be among the ones who bring light to the darkness, another good soul who will serve as a reminder to others that the world really isn’t so bad. LBK gives me hope and brings me joy every day. I already love this child more than I ever knew was possible. And I can’t think of anything that will help make the world a better place more than hope, joy and love.