Love has always been a fascinating topic for me to try to figure out. I constantly want to define how I formed by belief system, which governs how I make decisions for my life. When it comes to love, both of my Grandmothers shared knowledge that helped me when I really needed it, but I also invited a friend, Dawn Anderson, to share lessons she learned from her Grandparents. We both felt Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to reflect on lessons learned from our Grandparents on love, life, and loss. Happy Valentine’s Day!
What my Grandmothers taught me about love:
Both my maternal and paternal Grandmothers were in the position of raising their children without my Grandfathers living in the home with them. Even though I was only around 12 or 13 years old, something in me wanted their perspective on love, so I could use it as a guide. I knew they could share deep wisdom from their personal experiences. They refused to allow loss to define their lives. They were both business owners, dependable volunteers at church, as well as great Moms. My Grandmothers were and still are my example of women who lead their families while faithfully serving the Lord. I remember thinking, “this is a picture of a real woman”. Their advice for me was practical - Love requires: 1) another person who wants to work at it with you and 2) a person who isn’t addicted to serving himself but will do his best to put your needs first.
But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. Colossians 3: 14
It’s almost 29 years later and I still remember how my Grandmothers wanted God’s will for my life. Roosevelt and I don’t skip out on the work required to have a happy family with thriving children. Love isn’t easily granted, it’s cultivated as well as nurtured over time. It takes two mature people who want to serve each other. We’ve learned to put some one else’s needs first which means everyone’s needs are being met. The most important foundational element is following Christ’s example of communicating with love, joy, and peace.
The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us. Galatians 5: 22-24
I am born into a bloodline of women who have depended on and loved the Lord all the years of their lives. I’m thankful my Grandmothers helped to shape my beliefs on how to love and share a life with someone else for the duration of my life.
What I Learned about Love from My Maternal Grandparents:
My maternal grandparents, Dessie and Ora Holt, were born around the turn of the century and had been married for 64 years when Grandma died in Grandpa’s arms.
They worked together on their north Missouri farm most of their lives, where they raised five children along with the crops and animals. My grandparents faithfully attended their little country Methodist church, where their daughter (my mother) met and married my dad (their minister). Ora and Dessie had strong character based on their faith that anchored them through the Depression, the death of one of their children, and all the ups-and-downs of farm and family life.
My sisters and I were confused about their relationship as small children because we didn’t see them expressing physical affection to each other, or even to us. In fact, the family joke was that my mother’s parents thought our father and his family were a little strange because they were “always kissing and hugging each other!”
Soon, I came to realize that the kind of love my grandparents shared with each other and their family was a steadfast kind of love—the kind of love expressed with the Hebrew word “hesed”—for which we don’t really have an adequate English translation. Hesed is the consistent, ever-faithful kind of love our God shows for us. It’s more about the things we DO than the things we SAY.
As Grandma’s health declined and they moved to town, Grandpa lovingly took care of her physical needs, the same way she had taken care of him all those years when he worked the farm. Knowing he would need something to help keep him going after she passed, Grandma taught Grandpa how to plant and take care of her flowers.
Grandma died in early spring, and the flower garden became something that helped Grandpa through his grief, just as Grandma knew it would. After her death, Grandpa told us (through the only tears I ever saw him shed), “Dessie was always the only girl for me.”
That’s HESED love. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for teaching me about faithful love that endures all the storms of life and goes with us into eternity!