By Caitlin, The attempting-to-be-happy Rope Contributor
Warning: This is not the happiest thing you will ever read, but hopefully it will help you during some of life’s struggles.
My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:6–7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When my mom was 6 years old her parents got a divorce. They both were remarried by the time she was 8 and they both stayed married until she herself was married and having kids. This is relevant because it means that instead of having four grandparents I have six.
I know several other people who also have more than four grandparents, so that in itself is not interesting, but what makes my situation somewhat unique is that I have six grandparents because my grandparents got divorced, not because my parents got divorced.
Most other people aren’t that close to their “extra” grandparents because they didn’t show up in their lives until they were older. They had their biological grandparents and now all of the sudden they had step grandparents too. From the time I was born I had six amazing grandparents. There was no difference between who was biologically related to me and who wasn’t.
When I was in the fourth grade my grandma, my grandpa’s second wife, died of cancer. She had been sick my whole life, so it wasn’t a great surprise, but it was still the first death of a family member that I had experienced. It was devastating as all deaths are, but it helped that we knew she wasn’t suffering anymore.
When I was in the seventh grade my grandpa got remarried to a woman named Helen. Helen was unbelievably fantastic and we all loved her from the beginning. She called us her grandkids and though we called her Helen, we all knew she was our grandmother. As far as I was concerned, I had six grandparents once again.
My mom’s stepdad, my Papa, was a logger. He owned his own logging company and when I was a junior in high school he had a logging accident and he passed away unexpectedly. It was, by far, the most traumatic thing that had ever happened to me. I still can’t remember ever being that sad. This is where the Philippians verse comes in. It was my Papa’s favorite verse and he would quote it all the time. It was one of the verses read at his funeral.
It was the verse that got me through the next several months. This might seem like a strange verse to lean on when a family member dies, but I became extremely fearful that every call I got or even unexpected text was going to be someone telling me that another family member had passed away. It was an all-consuming thought because my Papa had died so unexpectedly.
I painted the Philippians verse on my bedroom wall along with
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
It took me a long time to finally hand over my anxiety to him. To trust that He was going to take care of me and when sadness and trials did come my way, that He would give me the strength to withstand them if I would just lean on Him. It is a lesson I am still trying to learn.
Last year Helen died of breast cancer right before Thanksgiving. One week after her doctor told her she had at least six months left she passed away. Since then I have read both of those verses about 1 million times and it is still something I struggle with daily.
Helen’s favorite Bible verse was Psalm 37:5
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” I have added that to the Bible verses on my wall. It is something I see and pray daily.
This week has been a major struggle for me. It will be the 5th anniversary of my Papa’s death and it would have been Helen’s 73rd birthday. I consider myself lucky to have had seven grandparents who have loved me and made an impact on my life.
All of my biological grandparents are still living and continue to teach me so much about the way I want to live my life. Don’t be anxious, commit to the Lord and have peace during tribulations. Those are the things that my “extra” grandparents taught me and those are the things that I hold on to every day.