Several weeks before I became a grandmother for the first time, an experienced grandmother told me, “There’s a special kind of love inside you that you don’t even know exists until your first grandchild is born.”
Her comment startled me. I knew there were different kinds of love, but I could not fathom how the love of a grandchild could differ from the love I feel for my children. It wasn’t long before I found out that she was correct.
The love of a grandparent is different. It’s not that I loved my new grandson more than I love my children. I love him in a different way.
• The love of a grandchild is liberating. There are no strings attached. There are no day-to-day worries about childrearing or discipline.
• The love of a grandchild is sacred. It reflects the love and generosity of God, and it instills in us a deep respect for life.
• The love of a grandchild is awe inspiring. It carries the fulfillment of past generations and the hope of future generations.
• The love of a grandchild is fun. It is a source of great joy.
The love I felt for my grandchild was, indeed, a special kind of love that I didn’t even know existed. And over the years, as additional grandchildren came along, I felt an outpouring of love that expanded and deepened.
As Catholic grandparents, one of the best ways to understand this special kind of love is to reflect on the ways Jesus revealed to us the depths of his love and the love of his Father in heaven. Here are some Scripture passages that can help us to better understand the love of our grandchildren from a spiritual perspective:
• Love embraces children (Luke 18:15-17). Jesus let the little children come to him even though some people tried to keep the children away. How do we embrace our grandchildren? How do we give them unconditional love in the same way that Jesus did?
• Love teaches (Matthew 13:1-53). Jesus revealed the kingdom of God by telling stories. How can we teach our grandchildren by telling stories?
• Love is truthful (Mark 12:14-17). Jesus always told the truth—even when he knew that people were being mean or were trying to trick him. Are we always truthful in what we say to our grandchildren?
• Love heals (Mark 6:53-56). Jesus always tried to help people who were sick, blind, deaf, or lame. How do we help our grandchildren when they are sick or suffering?
• Love cares about people (John 6:1-15). When Jesus realized people were hungry, he made sure that everyone had enough fish and bread to eat. How do we feed our grandchildren—physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
• Love comforts (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus reached out to people who were sad, tired, and afraid. How do we comfort our grandchildren when they struggle with problems or difficulties?
• Love trusts (Luke 12:22-29). Jesus promised that when we place our trust in God, the heavenly Father will take care of us. How do we set aside any worries and fears that we might have for our grandchildren and remind ourselves that God will take care of them?
• Love serves (John 13:1-15). Jesus never put himself first. He washed the feet of his disciples as an example of how to serve others. In what ways do we teach our grandchildren to serve others?
• Love forgives (Luke 23:33-35). When Jesus was on the cross, he asked his Father to forgive the men who hurt him. How do we forgive our grandchildren when they say or do something that hurts us? How do we help them to forgive?
• Love prays (Luke 6:12). Jesus frequently took the time to pray to his Father in heaven. He knew that his Father’s love helped guide, comfort, and strengthen him. How do we pray for our grandchildren? How do we pray with our grandchildren?
• Love heeds the great commandment (Matthew 22:37-39). When someone asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How do we show our grandchildren our love for God, our neighbor, and ourselves?
An Exercise in Love
If you are looking for a way to measure your capacity to love, here is a little exercise. Read St. Paul’s description of love slowly: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
Now read the passage again, but this time, replace the word “love” and all the pronouns connected to it with the word “I.” “I am patient and kind; I am not jealous or boastful; I am not arrogant or rude. I do not insist on my own way; I am not irritable or resentful; I do not rejoice at wrong, but rejoice in the right.”
No one is perfect in the ability to love, but this little exercise offers a goal that we can strive to achieve.
Good and gracious God, thank you for the gift of my grandchildren. Open their eyes so that they can see the depth of my love for you and for them. Fill me with your love, and allow me to become an instrument of your love to every member of my family. Amen.
Excerpted from The Catholic Grandparents Handbook: Creative Ways to Show Love, Share Faith, and Have Fun by Lorene Hanley Duquin (The Word Among Us Press, 2018). Available at wau.org/books