Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Child Is Born

On December 10, 2013, Barbara Kaye Harrington came into the world. She is the daughter of my husband's son and daughter-in-law. Family and friends were quick to respond with congratulations "grandma!" I must confess that I have struggled with feelings of disconnection. I have felt it to be somewhat dishonest to receive Mother's Day cards and wear the moniker "grandma" when there is no biological connection. Ironically, I often counsel clients struggling with the same issue telling them, "Biology doesn't necessarily define a relationship." I can honestly say that part of the struggle was a need to emotionally protect myself from rejection. I convinced myself that I was only loved as long as I was married to my husband. Once he passed away, I reasoned, his relatives would have no further use for me. Moreover as a black woman marrying into a white family, I couldn't pretend be a blood relative. I figured that little Barbara Kaye would just love me for who I am until that fateful day when she was old enough to recognize that my skin tone was a little bit different. Or perhaps she might show a family picture to a peer as they ask the question,"Why is your grandmother black?" or worse, "She's not your real grandmother!" The biological mother of my husband's son passed away 5 years ago from cancer. I'm sure on some emotional level my husband's son wishes his mother was alive to see the birth of her third grandchild. (She had already had two grandchildren from her daughter who was fathered from a previous relationship.) For whatever reason, God chose to leave me as the "grandmother" on the paternal side. In the meantime God had been doing a work in my heart over the 9 months prior to Barbara's birth. An excitement had been growing in my spirit as the day of the birth grew closer. Friends would tell me that my feelings would change once that little girl was born. I still had a hard time believing them so I began to pray and ask God to show me how to let go of the feelings of insecurity. The Lord led me to the familiar Christmas story from the gospel of Matthew chapters 1 and 2. My attention was directed to the plight of Joseph and his struggle upon learning that Mary was pregnant outside of wedlock. Even though the angel reassured Joseph that God through the power of the Holy Spirit was responsible for Mary's pregnancy, I wondered how Joseph felt having no biological connection to Jesus? It was already difficult enough listening to the gossip and seeing the questionable stares as Joseph decided to go ahead and take Mary as his wife. However in his quiet moments did he grieve the fact that he would never be Jesus' real father? As I read the Scriptures in Matthew and meditated on Joseph's response and actions, I came to realize that Joseph was humbled and blessed. Although he was not Jesus' biological father, God had chosen him to participate in raising the Messiah. His name is alongside Mary's as set apart to a special calling in God's redemptive plan. Rather than feeling sorry for himself I suspect Joseph was awestruck and perhaps wondered if he was up to the task. And although Joseph and Mary went on to have other children, the birth of Jesus dramatically changed Joseph's life. In a similar manner, the birth of Barbara Kaye has dramatically changed my life. God has come to me and reassured me not to be afraid to draw near as a grandmother to this little girl. I have been chosen to be like a "Joseph" in her life. I am to share with her about that little baby who came into our world at Christmas and changed everything! Moreover, although as human beings we are not biologically related to Christ, believers in Him are called His children and God has adopted us into His family making us co-heirs with Christ. (John 1:12-13; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 3:6; Galatians 3:26-4:7) My prayer is, like Joseph, I will be faithful to the special calling God has given me. My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will draw near once again to the manger and see how the birth of this child not only can change your heart but can change your world!
Merry Christmas!
Pastor Sheree

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