Have you lost your joy?
Joylessness is not a respecter of grandparents. Even those who anticipate special occasions with great delight are susceptible to it. Allowing their focus and priorities to get out of whack in all the details of preparation and celebration, their joy wanes.
So, what’s a grandparent to do when they feel robbed of their joy?
Acknowledging the reality of their situation, our grandparent must decide to stand up and fight. And one way to fight is to establish some JOYFUL habits. It’s certainly not easy work, but it is JOYFUL work that is worth the effort.
10 Habits of Joyful Grandparents
Keep God #1
Joyful grandparents establish priorities, keeping their eyes on God.
True joy—joy that can’t be shaken when the days are gloomy and gray, exhaustion prevails from caring for your grandchildren, or you feel the ache of not being permitted to have any contact with them—is only found in God.
Biblical Joy – a settled conviction in our soul, produced by the Holy Spirit as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world, even in the midst of our circumstances.*
Kim Young, Joy Forevermore
*Definition tweaked from, John Piper — “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.“
Do ALL things unto Christ
Grandparents filled with joy don’t get caught up in what other people think – about their decision to invest their retirement years in their adult children and grandchildren rather than on their own pleasure or any of the other “grandparent-stuff.” They work for an Audience of One and realize the honor of serving Him by serving their family. (Colossians 3:23)
Keep an eternal focus
Joyful grandparents are intentional with their time. They prayerfully examine their motives and evaluate their activity. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
“Why am I spending time on this?”
“Am I doing this for selfish reasons?”
“Are my reasons for engaging in this Christ-honoring?”
“Is this a frivolous use of time or does it bring glory to God?”
Joyful grandparents make a conscious effort to find things for which they are thankful. They train their minds to look for blessings, and they choose to focus their attention on these things.
“Thanksgiving is the precursor to joy” –Kathy Keller
Choose to be joyful
Joyful grandparents choose joy.
We can’t always control the things that happen to us…
- our teen grandchild turns from God.
- we aren’t permitted to talk about God with our grandchild.
- our adult child won’t allow us to have any contact with our grandchildren.
- health issues keep us from being as involved as we would like with our grands.
- we are raising our grandchildren.
We can, however, control how we react. We can control whether we choose joy or bitterness, thanksgiving or anger, happiness or discontentment.
Refuse to compare
Comparison is a thief of joy!
Joyful grandparents don’t compare their lives to the lives of other grandparents. They don’t compare bank accounts, energy levels, or proximity to grandchildren. Neither do they allow themselves to get caught in the vicious circle of trying to “out give” their grandchildren’s other grandparents. Instead, they realize there is no need for comparison as they are already seated at the table with Christ.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Take care of their marriage
As much as we’d like to believe the quality of our marriage doesn’t affect our grandparenting, for most of us at least, that’s just not the case.
When my husband and I are at odds with one another, my attitude reflects the conflict—even if my husband isn’t home. When my marriage is not strong, my joy suffers.
Take care of themselves
Joyful grandparents take care of their bodies by staying active, eating relatively healthy meals, resting, getting away occasionally to be refreshed, and investing in things that bring them joy. (Of course, there are times when we should make sacrifices for our family, but that doesn’t mean we should always sacrifice, never taking care of ourselves.)
Say “no” so they can say “yes”
Joyful grandparents keep their priorities straight. They learn (sometimes with very great effort) to say “no” to the good, so they can say “yes” to the best.
A habit of always saying, “Yes,” can fill our schedules so full, there is no room for the “best” when it comes along. This habit can also fill us with exhaustion and stress rather than joy.
Ask for help
This one is tough. Joyful grandparents make themselves vulnerable by asking for help.
- When in doubt, they ask other grandparents for advice. They also ask for prayer and accountability.
- Joyful grandparents ask their adult children (the parents of their grandchildren) for their preferences (bedtime, snacks, routines, discipline, etc.)
- They also ask their grandchildren to help with chores, share needs and prayer requests, or even to help with technology.
Asking is risky. What will our grandchildren think of us? Perhaps our children’s preferences will require some effort on our part. That other grandparent might turn down our request. But if we never risk asking, we’ll never reap the benefits or experience the joy that can be ours in walking this journey with others.
How do you fight for joy?