Shifting Relationships

September 22, 2009
by Margaret Zondo

Ephesians 5:21 – Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NRSV)

When our children were young, a visit to their grandparents was both an adventure and a treat. Grandparents, in their wisdom, play a moral, social, and spiritual role in Africa and elsewhere around the globe. With the HIV and AIDS epidemic, many grandparents, particularly in Africa, are forced into the role of raising their orphaned grandchildren under extremely difficult circumstances.

My mother is currently visiting from Zimbabwe, and I have watched her interact with the children, who are now all young adults in a different culture. The relationship has shifted drastically, and spending time with Grandma is not as exciting any more, due to other life pressures. However, when they take Grandma out — mostly after church on Sundays — they hold her hand and show her off to their friends. They try to let her experience as much of Canadian life as possible in the limited time. After all, Grandma needs to learn a little about their world of computers, Skype, Facebook, and text messaging — the list is endless. Thankfully, grandparents do not always have to talk about their faith. They can demonstrate it in their relationships with grandchildren, showing love, mutual respect, and trust.

There are numerous times when things are not going so well in our lives, and like our human relationships, our relationship with God may shift slightly. Despite our sloppiness, like Grandma, God's love and concern for us remain unchanged. We are able to feel His presence and infinite love.

When the children call and I ask whether or not they would like to speak to their grandmother, they are often reluctant, not because they do not love her, but because they have lost some of their conversational skills and are afraid of sounding rude by cutting short the conversation. On two occasions, they have had to cancel an outing with Grandma because something came up. My mother understands and finds something else useful to do. She is an avid gardener and seamstress, and loves to read.

In the west, we are overly conscious of time, a phenomenon that has caught up with my children and changed the manner in which they view the important pastoral role of grandparents. I do not view this change in a negative way. I remain thankful for my mother and the children, and for the opportunity for them to renew old friendships and to take a stroll down memory lane. As far as I am concerned, the glass is half full. What a blessing it is to watch two generations with distinctly different worldviews show so much love and respect for each other!

Prayer: Gracious Lord, we thank You for the precious gift of life. We pray for all grandparents around the world, especially those who find themselves burdened with taking care of their orphaned grandchildren. Bless us and teach all of us always to see the good in all people and to learn from each other. Amen.

About the author:

Margaret Zondo

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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