My Grandma Swanson passed away last Thursday and it's something that's hit me much harder than expected. But her story is one that I think can hit us as well.
She moved down from Iowa to live with my family from the time I started high school then all the way through until I graduated college. Then she lived in a Senior Living Facility for her final 3 years of life.
While she lived with us, she suffered from severe dementia which eventually developed into Alzheimer's. It was hard to see that take place. To see her simplest of memories and functions fade away over time.
But throughout the entire process, a few things never changed with my personal relationship with her.
In my four years of high school, I played varsity basketball-and lots of it. My phenomenal parents were always there to support me in each game. Win or lose. Home or away (sometimes very far away). But they weren't alone. The one person sitting right next to them during all of those games in horribly uncomfortable bleachers for hours on end was none other than my Grandma (who was in her upper 80s at the time).
For someone who wasn't supposed to really know what was going on around her, she always found a way to be fully enraptured in each contest. But my favorite part came at the end. My whole family would wait for me afterwards. They'd say a few things, give me words of encouragement. But nothing seemed to hit me or lift me up more than her.
Every game, she'd wait for me with everyone else, her hands held close together in a cheering fist, give me a hug and do one thing that always brightened me up, no matter if it was my best game or the worst. She smiled.
And she never stopped.
No pain, no fear, no issues and no confusion stopped her. Not from showing up every time. Not from smiling.
It truly pulled my spirit out from pits of disappointment and heartache more times than I can remember. (Especially being on a team that didn't really win all that much).
And now as I look forward into our world and our country, one full of pain and fear, issues and confusion, and so much more disarray, I can learn something from her. We all can.
Grandma was a woman of Christ. Deciding to follow after Him much earlier in her life. Finding completion and wholeness through the fulfillment that is the grace of Jesus after having a childhood ruled by an alcoholic and abusive family. That belief within her poured out as truth.
God put her in my life for various reasons. She was someone who struggled with so much within herself, but she continued to show up. She continued to shine the Light of Christ to others like me. She continued to be an inspiration (even if it was just through the simplest smile).
Whether you struggle with a difficult medical condition or anything else, like inner pain or addiction or even battle depression and intense self-doubt like me, may you know it doesn't have to rule you. May you know that the love of Jesus has power. Power to radiate through you even when it seems like there's no possible way for that to make it out.
And may you know that He can use you if you simply:
- Show up. and 2. Shine a Light.
May that be the evidence of Christ's fulfillment within you.
And may it help this world that needs it.
Thank you, Lord, for Grandma Swanson.