What a gorgeous outfit!” a co-worker exclaimed.
“It’s my grandmother’s,” I answered and then watched the look of shock on her face. How many 20 year olds wore their grandmother’s clothes?
I loved that response. In my early adult years, my grandmother, Susan, had become one of my best friends. My evening visits would sometimes result in my staying overnight and she would lend me an outfit next day for work. I loved wearing her clothes and had so much fun telling people that they were my grandmother’s.
My grandmother’s very presence had a way of commanding respect. She was a very beautiful woman. People would often stop to look at her. Then when people got to know her they couldn’t help but fall in love with a woman whose heart was even more beautiful than her appearance.
I had a unique relationship with her. We communicated without reservation. She would boldly expose areas in my life that she thought needed shaping. Then she would often laugh at how similar we were and say, “I want you to know what wish I had known then.” She had a deep heart for the Lord and many around her would share prayer requests with her, sensing that her “connection to God” would guarantee an effective answer.
Her passing caused me to reflect on the powerful way she continues to influence my life. She lovingly influenced me with the following attributes which I will always have with me. These principles reflect in the way I seek to live each day:
- Improvise when necessary
I can’t remember a time when my grandmother could not do something because she didn’t have the resources. She always found a way. If she had no thread, she would find a pin. If something was broken and there was no service available, she would fix it with the most unconventional methods and amazingly it always worked to her benefit.
- Work hard and never give up
My grandmother would spend the entire day helping to run the farm. While she worked hard on the necessary tasks, she had an eye for beauty. She spent spare moments working on the non-essentials like decorating her home and growing flowers that could have won awards. She never gave up, regardless of how difficult the task seemed and then always managed to add her special touch.
- Serve with grace
If unexpected guests were to arrive in the midst of a large project, she adjusted and made an incredible meal. Her gift of hospitality became her trademark. She considered it a privilege to serve others.
- Survive the setbacks
As I grew older, I came to understand my grandmother had a very difficult and abusive upbringing. I realized she was a survivor of an environment that could have emotionally paralyzed her. She later showed the tenacity to survive when my grandfather died. In all she did through her personal life and the ministries she became involved in, Her life exemplified that her first love was God.
- Study the Bible
On the eve of my grandmother’s funeral, I paged through her Bible. I was overcome by the depth by which she read Scripture. In many ways, it was as though I had picked up the Bible of a theologian. There was hardly a page that didn’t have notations. I learned so much by reading through her Bible. I knew that is how she had lived her life. She sought the Lord deeply in all things. Every day she spent much time in prayer. She taught me that the Lord truly is the love of your life and will guide you in all things.
She was a role model and helped shape many of my values. My work is different from hers, but yet there are similarities as our heart’s desire is to follow the path that God laid out for each of us. I embrace the calling God has placed on my life and deeply thank the woman who challenged me to let God shape and mold me beyond my greatest expectations.