I walked into the living room, looked into the sweet eyes of my daughter Shannon, and instantly she began to cry.
She seemed overcome with fear and her eyes gazed at the floor while tears streaked her cheeks. Through sobs, she said, “Dad, I’m pregnant.”
My wife Cathy sat beside me as Shannon’s sobs broke my heavy silence. I sat there bewildered as the waterfall of thoughts rushed through my head. My daughter had recently graduated high school and was beginning her walk into adulthood.
Travel weary, I had just returned from training in Denver, after recently being appointed as Promise Keepers’ regional director for the Northwest. I was just 44 years old, and a pregnant teenager was not part of my five-year plan.
Thankfully, my heavenly Father quieted my inner turmoil and not a word of my initial thoughts was breathed. In a still small voice He spoke to my sprit: “Tell Shannon what I have told you time after time. This is part of my plan for her life and I am with her. This child will usher in the beginning of a new and rewarding life for you and Cathy.”
I must have been quiet for an extended time, because Cathy shook me out of my bewilderment when she said, “Say something!” I expressed to Shannon our commitment to be there for her and her baby. I told her, “There was a God in heaven who loved her unconditionally and there was a dad on earth who did too.”
God was right! It began a journey of grandfathering that changed my life. I have to admit that I was a preoccupied father. I struggled with my own insecurities, seeking to please others, and I often lost sight of those people in my life that really mattered most. I often allowed the “whats” in my life to determine my identity and significance. This affected how I related with the “whos” in my life – my wife and children and now grandchildren. In many ways, through my grandchildren, I got a “do-over” and a fresh start.
Shannon gave birth to our first grandchild, Gabrielle, who we affectionately call “Gabby.” She is now 19 years old, going on 25, and working her way through college.
God allowed Cathy and me to become part of a moment in their destinies. That moment in 1994 could have gone quite differently. I realize now that God was testing me. He already knew what he was going to do. He was giving me a fresh start; He was giving me a do-over.
Shannon would get a do-over too. She married a wonderful man who adopted Gabby, and they gave me four more grandchildren. My younger son, Doug, found a beautiful lady and gave me two more. God has blessed me with a full quiver. My God, my wife of 43 years, my two kids and my seven grandchildren are the loves of my life. Apart from God and them I am nothing.
Family is the true expression of the heart of the Father.
I have determined in my heart and spirit, with the help of God Almighty that I will live a life that will leave a legacy, one that will echo now and for eternity.
Whether you’re a grandparent or not, you too can leave a legacy in the lives of those who matter most to you. Today can be the beginning of the rest of your life.
Maybe you can identify with me; you also need a do-over. I want to stir up and call out of all grandfathers (and anyone else who is reading) the belief that they can make a difference, that they can leave a legacy through grandparenting.
We should not fear failure. We should fear that we would spend our lives succeeding at what really does not matter.
Imagine the possibilities!
Dr. Dan Erickson is the author of “Grandfathering: Live to Leave a Legacy,” and leads People Matter Ministries. He is a former executive director of the National Coalition of Ministries to Men, and a former national director of PromiseKeepers. He has two children and seven grandchildren.
© 2014 by Dan Errickson. All rights reserved..
You just finished reading a guest post by Dr. Dan Errickson, “Grandfathering: A dad do-over” on Stepping Up blog.
Read “Creative Ways to Teach Your Grandchildren About Life” by Jack and Lisa Hibbs on FamilyLife.com.