When Life Gets Smaller

When Life Gets Smaller

The last couple week have been emotional ones.

While my husband Kurt and I were away last week, we learned that my sister-in-law’s father died. Gordon was the dearest man who I had the joy of knowing personally and working with professionally. He was the unofficial mayor of his retirement community which explains a lot about who he was.

When Life Gets Smaller

I’ve thought a lot about my sister-in-law and her family, remembering what it was like to lose my own mom and dad. I’ve thought about when life gets smaller–not hopeless, just smaller.  A phone call with Mom was no longer possible. Lunches with Dad were done. We know that Gordon is now with his beloved Gladys. We also know he won’t be with us this Easter, next Christmas, for birthdays, calls, and lunches.

During this time my husband’s family has also been helping my mother-in-law transition to assisted living. It’s not easy. She’s leaving the home she’s lived in for over 50 years, the home she shared with my father-in-law, the home where she raised four great kids, where she tended her raspberries, visited with neighbors, canned applesauce, played with grandchildren. At times I’ve sat across from her and my heart has hurt. She knows the change is necessary, but no part of her wants to be making this transition.

Phyllis is also experiencing when life get smaller. Yes, she’ll be making new friends and getting the care needed, but life as she’s known it is changing dramatically.

On Wednesdays I have a lunch date with my four-year old grandson Enzo and on Thursdays I have a play date with my four-year old grandson Austin. I marvel each week at how life gets bigger and bigger for both boys, and as a grandmother, I get to delight in the moment. I get to say, “Yes, let’s!” to each request. I get to marvel at their imagination, smile when they tease me. I also tear up when I hear a quiet voice say, “I love you, Grandma.”

When life gets smaller and when life gets bigger, words of loving kindness throughout. At the end of many visits, I have reminded Phyllis that we will love her through these changes. Every part of me wants to make it OK, to take away the pain of loss, the pain of change, the pain of frustration, disappointment, and confusion.

But as we know, life includes moments of great joy, great celebration, great accomplishment, and those moments of loss when life gets smaller. And some of our most important words of loving kindness come not in those moments of great joy, but in the moments of great loss, when life gets smaller.

This week I explained to Enzo how I was very happy and very sad when I was away in California on vacation. Feeling a great need to share one of life’s fundamental truths, I explained how I was happy to be with Grandpa enjoying our time in the sun, but I was sad to have missed lunch with him. I went on: happy and sad, happy and sad, happy and sad. “Oh, Grandma!” he groaned.

All of us will be part of lives getting bigger and bigger and times when life gets smaller. Words of loving kindness celebrate. They also support and encourage. Words of loving kindness value the moment. They also speak truth into the situation. Phyllis is 89. I can’t change that, I can’t fix it, we can’t ignore it. But we can love her through it. Gordon is no longer with us, but we can honor his life and find ways to bless his family. When life gets smaller we remain a family of God, meaning we will never be small.

The psalmist writes that God’s steadfast love is precious. And all of humanity takes refuge in the shadow of His wings. That from Psalm 36, verse 7.

We continue in the season of Lent. I often quote Titus 3 in which Paul writes that God’s loving kindness became our saving grace. We have a really big God whose Son Jesus made a really big sacrifice so we could have a really big life with Him. That’s a beautiful way of saying that our lives remain big even as when life get smaller.

God’s love is precious. God’s love celebrates with us. It also gives us refuge when life happens, when life gets smaller, when uncertainty abounds and grief intrudes.

Today I close with the words from a beautiful hymn, In Christ Alone by Keith and Kristyn Getty:

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this sold ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My comforter, my all in all

Here, in the love of Christ, I stand.

Heavenly Father, Your love is steadfast and we take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. You are our light, our strength, our song–when life get bigger and when life gets smaller. Here, in the love of Christ, we stand. Amen.

Together in the love of Christ we stand.

Deanna is the author of two books, Fruit of My Spirit and Signs in Life.

Deanna Nowadnick author

Hi, I'm Deanna

I am a writer and speaker who loves helping women of faith connect our delightfully ordinary stories to God’s extraordinary love and faithfulness, so we can be encouraged and empowered knowing God’s been in the details–always has been, always will be.

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