By Mark Azzara
“Learning your place” is a phrase that sounds like I’m talking about childhood, but even we grandfathers must learn our place.
Last Thursday my granddaughter and her friend, two 16-year-olds on their first great adventure, arrived in town from hundreds of miles away for a few days with our family. My job that first day was to pick them up at the train station and deposit them at the mall. Deposit them and leave.
Grandfathers don’t make good shopping companions for teenaged girls. I have learned my place. She isn’t 6 anymore. She’s 16. Even though she and her friend were in another state that didn’t mean they needed a chaperon. They wanted to go shopping and just be girls on an adventure. More power to them.
A few days from now I’ll drive them home – a tedious all-day drive that will save them the expense of return-trip airline tickets. But I’ll be their chauffeur, not their intimate conversation buddy. I’ve learned my place.
I am glad to have put this lesson into practice first with a granddaughter rather than a grandson because guys tend to hang together and “get”one another. But my grandson will be 16 all too soon and I want to be able to show him the same kind of respect I’m trying to show my granddaughter and her BFF.
We never stop learning our place because our relationships always need tweaking. No relationship remains the same forever. Ask any parent. That’s a good thing because it keeps us alert to the other person, aware of what’s needed in the moment that was never needed before, aware of what’s no longer needed despite the familiarity of the good old days and those pragmatic old ways.
The problem is in letting go of the old so we can embrace the new. That’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13 – putting away childish ways and embracing mature behavior.
If that’s a problem in our relationships with other people (and it frequently is) it’s even more of a challenge in our relationship with God. I am called to learn my place with him, too. To learn it anew every day. And that’s the relationship I must focus on, above all others, because that one will last forever.
All God’s blessings – Mark
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