I have very few memories of either of my grandmothers. By the age of 10, I saw my paternal grandmother maybe once or twice a year, and we lived within five miles of each other. Around the same age, I no longer saw my maternal grandmother; she lived 30 miles away, but family hurt and misunderstandings made get-togethers impossible. I have no recollections of fat envelopes arriving days before my birthday or driving from one grandmother’s home to the other on Christmas morning, making a day of opening presents and eating traditional meals. Nor did the phone ring for me on any regular schedule. There was nothing, and surprisingly, I adjusted to it. I had no expectations, and what’s more, I had no anger. I was simply numb.
The natural and spiritual man/woman live in such different spaces. In Corinthians 2:14, the Bible tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural child when hurt or repeatedly disappointed grows into a woman who may resent being cast aside. Sometimes, infants who have been raised by extended family members or non-biological parents grow into children, adolescents, and adults with deep-seated insecurities. This confusion can often lead to anger and unforgiveness. A male adolescent or teen will sometimes lash out verbally or physically against an invisible father, and he feels awkward standing in the presence of children being raised in a home with loving men.
The spiritual man, like the natural man, aches for answers to long-unanswered questions: you promised you’d be at my game, but when I looked into the stands you weren’t there—why? How could you raise my siblings but never think about me? Do you love me? The spiritual man is pained by the loss just as much as the natural, but he cries out to God in a barren land and hearkens for His reply. She accepts the love of women who stayed—the non-birth mothers who wipe tears away and tell you that you are loved; you are special; God knows your name. Spiritually-minded men and women know they will be disappointed by people. They reflect on the heartaches from childhood while simultaneously quoting in the next breath Psalms 124, “If it had not been for the Lord on my side.”
When my mother’s mother died, I did not attend her funeral, but months after, I drove the 30 miles to the house where I had played with my five cousins. I looked at the window that was her bedroom where me and my cousins piled into her bed the last time I was in her house. There, I said my goodbyes, and I resented nothing. When my dad’s mother began experiencing frequent accidents, one right after the other, and people called to say they found her in parking lots deeply confused about where she had left her car, I championed for specialized testing, even drove down to be part of the appointment. You see the spiritual man knows that “love covers a multitude of sin” (I Peter 4:8) and you learn quickly to give grace even when you never felt its tenderness. God’s word sums up our hurt about our fathers, mothers, aunts, cousins, and all who have not treated us the way we think we ought to have been treated: His Word says, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Psalms 27:10). Be encouraged that God’s love is enough; know that He cared so much for us that he gave us a Comforter, and all sins—mine and yours—live in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
BY OCTAVIA MCDONALD