I'm Having The FaceTime Of My Life
From the minute I announced I was going to be a grandmother people began asking me the question. It’s always the first question that people ask and I’ve often wondered why it’s so important, but for some reason it is. You’ve probably guessed it by now. The question is, “What are you going to be called?” If you know me, you know I thought long and hard about what I wanted to be called—I’m such a play-on-words fanatic! I wanted to be the cool grandmama (who doesn’t?), and I knew the name I chose could impact that. So it was an easy choice: I would put an N in front of Anna and my grandmama name would forever be NAnna.
I’ve been working hard to communicate my name to my first grandson, seven-month-old Johnny, in hopes that he will take to it and be able to say it. Johnny and I do not have a typical grandparent/grandchild relationship. You see, he lives in East Asia. I knew him and held him in the hospital when my son and daughter-in-law came home to the states for his birth. My husband and I were able to nestle him, talk to him, and hear his little squeaks and cries. We were able to see him and relate to him as he took his first breath. In a matter of seconds, our role changed from parents to grandparents. Off and on for the next few weeks, I was able to experience life as a Nanna. I got to feed Johnny, change his diaper, rock him to sleep, and coo and talk to him in hopes of getting the least little eye contact or response. But you know newborns, they typically won’t respond until they are two or three months old, and by that time Johnny was back overseas where he was being held and loved by lots of Asian ladies who thought my little blue eyed grandson was the cutest thing they’d ever seen!
Now, seven months in, everything has changed. While I no longer have physical presence with Johnny, my relationship is built on my knowledge of him. Because of texts, emails, pictures, videos, and FaceTime I know him well. I know all about him. I know that he is growing, sitting in a high chair eating baby food, sitting up and playing with toys, saying bye-bye-bye and so much more! I know what his bigger clothes look like and the books his parents are reading to him. I know his schedule and when he isn’t sleeping well or when he gets hurt. But while I know all of these things about my beloved Johnny, I truly haven’t experienced being a grandmother. Experience happens when we are physically present in a situation. Experience means “practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or a particular activity”. Since I haven’t actively participated in my relationship with Johnny, I’ve not truly experienced him or my new identity as a grandmother.
Many of you might feel sad for me as a FaceTime Nanna. But please don’t. I've had the privilege to experience firsthand watching my kids grow up, find their passion, work hard to make it happen, and feel satisfied with lives filled with purpose and meaning. This trumps having Johnny sit in a high chair at my kitchen table any day. I'd so much rather my grandson experience a rich life as he grows up in Asia than me having a physical presence with him. That said, I am extremely thankful for texts, pictures, videos, and FaceTime more than you can imagine.
In thinking about my relationship with Johnny, I also think about personal experience with God. While I can know a tremendous amount about God, mostly through His Word, experiencing Him is completely different. Sometimes I feel as if most of my life I’ve known about God, but much of the time I haven’t experienced Him. My new role as a Nanna helps me see the difference. I desire to move from just knowing God to actually experiencing Him. But what does experiencing God look like? I know it sounds elementary, but experiencing God begins with relationship, and this relationship begins with desire and need.
As a grandmother, I long to have contact with Johnny, to know what it feels like to hold him and touch him. This experience is only created by actually being together in one anothers’ presence. This summer, I hope to have more firsthand involvement as a grandmother when Johnny spends a few weeks with us here in the U.S. Similarly, intimacy with God begins with my desire to be near Him followed by a belief that because of the promise of His Spirit, He is with me. The practical outworking of this belief is practicing an awareness that God is near and relating to Him accordingly.
Practically speaking, in my faith, time spent with God and coming to know more of Him provides opportunity for me to experience Him in a real way. He enlightens my eyes. He speaks in nature, songs, signposts, license plates and countless other ways. I cherish those moments where I want to nod and say, “Yep, that’s God!”
I’m ready to experience more of God. Even when He seems a world away, He’s not. He’s closer than I imagine. In fact, He’s always by my side.
“But as for me, how good it is to be near God!” Psalm 73:28a
Anna Nash is the Founder and Director of Beacon People, a non-profit which guides people to intentionally live a more purposeful and meaningful life. Her passion is helping others discover how to be their best in life and work. Anna is the author of pathFinder, A Journey Towards Purpose. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama and is married to her high school sweetheart Tyler. They own Innova Coffee, a shop where she loves to share a fresh cup of coffee and warm conversation.
The above post was taken from Anna’s upcoming book wayMaker, A Journey Towards Seeing and Experiencing God Like Never Before.