Losing My Religion and Gaining a Granddaughter

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By Rachelle Fehr

A year ago today, I became a grandmother.  

I had the privilege of being present for the birth and attending to my daughter through four days of labour followed by a difficult birth. I was the person who cut the cord and the first person to lay eyes on my sweet little granddaughter. I helped mother and baby get settled into their room and watched while my daughter’s boyfriend met his little girl for the first time.

When it was all done, I went home, kissed my husband, said hello to my five boys, and took a shower. Then I crawled into bed and cried for an hour. Deep, wrenching sobs that made my throat close and my gut ache.  

I cried because for the last nine months I had barely been hanging on. My daughter was 17 when I found out she was pregnant. After the shock wore off, I focused on the people around me: the family members who were hurting at the thought of an unplanned pregnancy happening to one of their own. My younger children who were trying to understand that babies are born even when people are not married and that their sister’s life was about to change drastically. They needed me desperately. And of course, I was focused on my young, pregnant daughter who suddenly needed to know about prenatal vitamins and gynecologists and breast pumps and diapers.

I cried, because watching her labour and struggle for four days was one of the hardest things I ever did for her. I cried, because I was exhausted and emotionally spent. I cried, because I was 16 weeks pregnant and nobody knew and I wasn’t ready to tell them yet. I cried, because I no longer knew my place. How do you parent your child-parent? Did she still need me? What did this new reality look like? Was this all my fault?  Is it because I got divorced? Was I failing as a mother and a Christian?  

The year my daughter was pregnant, people kept asking me what I was going to do. Some felt I needed to take a particular stance because of my faith. People asked if I would allow her to continue to live with us, if I had made sure she knew my beliefs about premarital sex, if I would allow her boyfriend in our home, if I would even speak to them. I wrestled with these questions and thoughts, because I didn’t know what to do. No Bible study or MOPS group had ever prepared me for this.

I looked at my daughter and my granddaughter and the young man who got a job and learned how to be a dad and I wondered what Jesus would do. But not in that cliché, bracelet-wearing way. I searched my soul. I cried. I sat in silence and drank too much wine. I imagined Jesus sitting across the table sharing a bottle of red with me and I really and truly wondered … what would He do?

Would Jesus look at a young, scared, pregnant girl and say, “How dare you!?” That’s not what He said to the woman at the well. Would He look at that high school senior who was about to become a father and refuse to speak to him in the name of his faith? Would He wear His righteousness with indignation and use it to push away these new young parents? Would His faith be used to burn bridges, instead of build them?

The Jesus I know wouldn’t. He didn’t. He looked at all of us in our humanity and said, “I know you can’t, so I will.” But what does that mean? How does that translate to me living and breathing Jesus in everyday life?

Eventually the answer became clear and beautifully simple. Jesus would look at me and tell me that if I didn’t have any sin, then I could go ahead and cast the first stone.

So, my daughter continued to live with us while her boyfriend came over to visit the baby until one day my girl announced that they were going to get an apartment. Now they come over for Sunday dinners and family gatherings and I’m learning what it means to parent an adult. They take that precious baby girl to church every Sunday and I love to see them coming into the sanctuary together.

This unexpected grandchild has been the most precious gift. Through her, I have learned what it means to love unconditionally. I am learning to be loved, even with my imperfections. Little by little, I’ve been learning that I don’t have to be weighed down by my inability to achieve some kind of Christian version of a Hallmark movie.

I am human. I am flawed. And Jesus is totally okay with that.

_______________________ 

About Rachelle:

Rachelle is a regular girl loved by an extraordinary God. She spends her days changing diapers, cheering on her basketball players and folding mountains of laundry while dreaming of writing great novels and drinking bottles of really expensive wine. Like a good Canadian girl, she loves hockey, Tim Hortons, and the one perfect toque that she found in a local shop this winter.  She raises her six children and spoils her granddaughter in a small, rural town in Manitoba with her very favourite person in the entire universe, her husband Kelsey.

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