By Heather Arbuckle -
“You’ve always been strong-willed.” Grandma’s words stung as my wounded heart wilted for a moment. Searching for understanding, I shared my dismay at her characterization of me, her oldest grandchild, and asked her to explain. “It’s not a bad thing,” she clarified. “Ever since you were a little girl, you knew what you believed. And once your mind is set, it will not be swayed. You are strong. I have never worried that you would lose your way.”
It was one of the last conversations I had with my Grandmother this side of Heaven. Months later, she lost her battle with cancer and God took her home to be in His presence. For years, when I reflected on our exchange, my heart hurt just a little. At the time, I wasn’t sure she knew me at all. After all, I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t know which way to go. Life for me, a young woman in her twenties, was filled with uncertainties. In fact, most of the time the world made me want to retreat into hiding. Still, as I have grown, I have come to realize my Grandma saw me with faith filled eyes. She saw the me that was yet to be. And she had faith that God would lead me on my way.
Now, many years later, my heart smiles when I recall our last exchange. Though she is not here to teach my children, my Grandmother is part of the legacy I am growing in them. Today, as I raise up Godly children in a world hostile to absolute truth, I understand what my Grandma saw in me. For regardless of what political arguments may grip our nation, I am determined to raise my children God’s way. After all, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).
For me, the right path was easy to find, for I had my Grandmother to walk it with me. She read me God’s word. Took me to Sunday School. She even paid for me to attend the church camp where I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. But even more than that, she prayed for me and believed that God would finished what He had started in me even after she was gone.
Truly, my Grandma knew the right path when she saw it. She passed it on to me, and now I am teaching my own children to follow it as well. It’s the path of Christ and it leads to eternal life in God’s holy presence. To be sure, she would recognize the same spunky spirit in my own children that she saw in me. Those apples seem to have fallen right next to the tree! When I gaze upon them and teach them His ways, I recognize the strength looking back at me. It is the same look that lit the eyes of a little girl my Grandma understood quite well. For she knew me better than I knew myself, and she believed that God was faithful to His promises.
On my behalf, she claimed the promise that when we “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is older he shall not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). It’s a truth that endures for sons. For daughters. For granddaughters. And now, when I reflect on the words of my Grandmother, a knowing smile comes over my heart.