One month ago an evening filled my heart with every kind of emotion.
At the age of 90 my sweet grandmother lay on a hospital bed in her living room, preparing to enter into Heaven. Her aged body looked so beautiful. Her face so soft and almost youthful. Such love surrounded her as family members coaxed her on with encouragement and kind words- her living room full of God’s presence.
As Grandma struggled through those final breaths I sat near her head- holding her feverish forehead and stroking the bridge of her nose. “It’s ok Grandma, you can go now,” I said. “Go to Jesus. Take His hand.”
I watched as she held on. The strength she mustered to be able to see my brother who was on his way was incredible. The strength she gathered from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head to be able to say one last “I love you” to us all- the might she powered to try to lift her hand to hold the phone her daughter was on the other end of- that hand with the weakening pulse, what an amazing experience it was to witness.
Stop holding on…. it’s ok Grandma.
Her breaths grew few and far between. Just when I thought she had gone, another breath would come.
Stop holding on...
Finally, the breaths stopped. That strong woman I knew my whole life had finally taken Jesus’ hand at the pearly gates. Almost instantly peace rushed over all who were there. She did it, we were happy for her. She let go.
Standing in the kitchen afterwards we reminisced. We joked- about how I wasn’t her favorite, she didn’t quite like me. She loved me, but did she like me? Anger started to fill my soul as I remembered words spoken to me. Not words of hatred, just words that made me feel like I wasn’t living life the acceptable way. I lived life differently than my sweet kindred soul and it was well known.
The next few days my grief of the loss and the happiness that she wasn’t suffering was stirred with the anger stick. I couldn’t quite grasp the art of forgiveness.
Stop holding on.
Why was I holding on to passing words in ancient history that weren’t intended to hurt? Why was I angry at a soul no longer on earth?
She was a great woman- full of kindness and compassion, fierce love and family devotion.
I wanted to remember her as perfect. But I couldn’t.
I wanted to forgive. But I couldn’t.
I didn’t know how. How do you forgive someone who didn’t even know they hurt you? Someone already gone?
The day before she left for Heaven we took a photo- of 4 generations of hands- my daughters hand was in the photo. I was scared I would hurt my daughter with words the same way- without realizing it. I wanted there to be generations of blessings, not generations of hurt.
Near the end of the funeral we all lit candles to the song, “Go light your world,” by Chris Tomlin. As I blew mine out I whispered, “Grandma I forgive you.” Yet, the whole concept of forgiveness was hard to grasp.
Stop holding on…
Fast forward a few weeks. The same exact thing I was angry at my Grandma about, God started showing me I was doing as well. The same things that frustrated her about me someone else was doing and frustrating me as well. God showed me that it was easy for me to forgive myself for speaking such foolishly little but hurtful sentences. So, if I can forgive myself so easily I should be able to forgive her easily too? But….there’s that hurt, that baggage, that not feeling liked?
Stop holding on…
We are humans. I am not perfect. Grandma was not perfect. We are humans. No human is or ever was…perfect. Except, Jesus.
Jesus Jesus Jesus.
Jesus was perfect- so we don’t have to be. As mothers, we don’t have to be perfect. As daughters, we don’t have to be perfect. As grandmas, we don’t have to be perfect.
No matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort we put into trying to be the best person we can be, we will always fall short of perfect.
Jesus had nails pounded through His hands, had thorns gashed upon his brow, had spears jabbed into his ribs-
so that we can stop holding on.
so that we can stop holding onto the bitterness, the pain, the guilt in life.
Jesus took the beating for us so there could be-
His blood running in us
so there could be-
Forgiveness all around. For me. For her.
For by His blood, by His blood, we are saved.