“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple."~~Luke 14:26
This is one of the times a Bible commentary can help us better understand what Jesus was saying. To "hate" one's family is indeed shocking, and appears on the surface to contradict Scripture ("Honor thy father and thy mother."). We in 21st Century America often write this off as hyperbole, citing the fact that Jesus often used exaggeration to get across his point.
In the cultural context of his time, however, those listening to Jesus would have been just as appalled at the idea of "hating" one's family as we are; maybe more so. Social customs pertaining to family loyalties, when ignored or neglected, would have been interpreted as hate. Family loyalty was crucial, coming second only to loyalty to Yahweh.
Sometimes, however, family loyalty took precedence over what Jesus asked a person to do (remember the man who wanted to bury his father before following Christ?) and what Jesus was teaching us is that our loyalty to him cannot be over-ridden by our attachment to our family, no matter how much we love them.
It is hard to be far from my children and grandchildren. It is harder when I have recently been with them and have to leave yet once again. What can make it almost unbearable is when someone says to me, "I could never leave my grandchildren." As if there is a hardness in my heart that enables me to do this. As if I don't think about and long to hug them daily, but know that if I return so I can feed my desire to be with them, I am actually cheating them.
The greatest legacy I can give to my children and grandsons is the example of obeying what I believe God desires me to do, whatever the cost. To help them see that it is not selfishness on my part that has led me 1900 miles away, but surrender to the One who desires my best, AND their best. That somehow, my being in Guatemala is part of God's plan and purpose for their lives, too.
But it's hard. My God, though, understands this. (What must it have been like for Jesus to break the supreme unity of the Trinity and leave behind the Father and Spirit to come to earth?). And Jesus promises He'll repay us, with a hundred-fold. And he does.
When I left to come here, I had two grandsons Zach (now almost 13) and Nate (9), and thought they would probably be my only grandchildren. I was in Omaha for their births, and could be intimately involved in their infancy. Becoming a grandma was one of the greatest joys of my life (hence, "Guatemalagrandma"). And I was grateful to be part of their coming into the world.
However, God had other plans and in the last three years two other grandsons have joined our family: Eliy (now 3) and Owen (2). I was not there for their births. While I came to Omaha soon after to meet them, I could not be counted on to help as I had with Zach and Nate. My kids came together and filled the gap, but I missed out. And my greatest grief was my fear that they would not know me, or how precious they are to me.
God saw this hole in my heart. And He responded.
All of my grands have called me "grandma." We tried out other names, but that was the one that fit.
Until this trip. When I saw Owen for the first time, my daughter Mikayla told me that he, at age 2, had decided I wasn't his grandma. I was to be his "MeeMaw." That is what he insists on calling me, and has no intention of changing it. No one is sure where he got that name (maybe daycare?) but it is not one we have ever used even in our extended family (Bryan's mom is "Gigi").
So "MeeMaw" I am, and I embrace it proudly. It was given to me by one of the people I hold most dear in this world, and shows me that though I am far from him most of the time, I am special to him. And each time he calls me that, I tear up.
Where this becomes a true Godincident is not known to anyone in my family (at least until now). For I have a friend who I got to travel to Israel with. I know her through her daughter and grandchildren and have always admired her for the legacy of faith I see run through her family. She is an amazing woman of faith and prayer, and I consider her a role model. The first time I heard the name "MeeMaw" was from the lips of her granddaughter. It was said with such respect and affection. I have to admit I was envious. I wanted that type of relationship with my grandchildren.
Now, fifteen years or more later, Owen has christened me as his "MeeMaw" and I am humbled. I believe somehow our God, who knows my ache to be with the kids, led him to this name to clearly show me He is with me and with them, no matter where I am located. I am blessed.
Zach, I love you to the moon and back.
Nate, I love you heaps and bunches.
Eliy, I love you to infinity and beyond.
and Owen, I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always.