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Words from the wise: Lessons from our grandparents

Spirit, Inspiring Stories , Made for More

Ah, grandma and grandpa. They wipe crumbs off our faces and have given us treats as long as we can remember. And once we start having kids of our own, our parents get to add “grand” to their title. If we’re lucky, we get to spend as much time with our grandparents as possible. And no matter their age (some grandparents are quite young these days!), we can learn a lot of lessons from the seasoned members of our families.

We asked Jody, a resident and grandma in Sonora, California, to share a few of her “grand” life lessons and wisdoms that we can all learn from. Perhaps her biggest lesson? Take it back to basics.

Remember the lessons you learned in kindergarten?

There’s a poem, written by Robert Fulghum, about already having the tools we need to live a balanced, happy life—and they’re all things we learn in kindergarten. Jody says those are the rules she tries to live by: Play fair, clean up after yourself, say you’re sorry when you hurt someone and take time to learn, think and play. “Helping other people and being treated the way you want to be treated is simple but so valuable,” says Jody. “Take your time doing things and don’t sweat the small stuff!”

Go with the flow

Despite facing cancer and a major move across the state, Jody says when life gives you challenges or other turning points, the road is as easy as you make it. “A stressful time I remember was when I was younger and newly married and my parents moved away. I was very angry with them for moving when I was about to start a family,” says Jody. “But then I realized everyone has to do what’s best for them—I can’t control what others do. To be angry only harms yourself—it can impact your health and cause depression. I had to learn how to let it go!”

When you get down…turn to God

One thing Jody says she wishes she knew when she was 20 is that no one is perfect—people can lift you up, but also let you down—but the constant is God. “Always love Him first. God has never let me down,” she says. “I will always put Him first and know He will always be there for me. I didn’t learn this lesson until I was in my late 30s!”

…And pass along your values to your kids

“The most important decision that I have made in my life is to follow Christ and to live a godly life and to raise my children to love the Lord,” Jody says. “I believe that this is the most important decision that I have ever made in my life in which I have absolutely no regrets—I feel that it has benefited my life as well as theirs.”

What’s the secret to a happy marriage?

“The secret is…it’s not always happy!” She says. “It’s work. It takes two people to be completely committed to each other through good and bad times.” It’s all about balance, she says. “It’s important to give each other space to be an individual with your own hobbies and friends while still doing fun things together as a couple.”

Be thrifty!

Saving for the future, Jody says, is a vital lesson she thinks everyone should know. It’s easy to think we can delay saving money—even small amounts—until later. But you never know when you might need a new tire, or a microwave, or a rainy-day fund. Even if you’re saving coins in the piggy bank your grandpa gave you when you were nine, that’s still saving!

Honor your parents, your grandparents, and…everyone else, actually.

Just like the lessons we learned in kindergarten, Jody says it’s incredibly important to be friendly to everyone—even strangers. (Though hopefully we’ve learned not to take candy from them by the time we become parents!) “And be quick to forgive! Even if you feel like you’ve done nothing wrong.”

And Dr. Roy Schutzengel at Adventist Health, offers a similar sentiment, adding, “Take time to love. It is easy with your family and those who love you. Not so easy with those that you disagree with–but if you try to find the good in everyone, life will reward you with happiness and contentment even in trying circumstances.”

“And always honor your parents, no matter what,” Jody says. In fact—why not honor everyone’s parents? Take time to volunteer for an organization that helps seniors in your local community, like Seniors First; These places are always happy to have volunteers to spend time with the seasoned citizens of our towns. You’ll not only be helping a great cause, but you’ll get to make new friends and hear amazing stories at the same time.

And what about the future grandparents…

We asked K.C. Fowler, chief experience officer of Adventist Health, for advice he’d love to pass along to his future grandchildren. He said he’d love for them to know, “more than anything, that they are loved. “And there’s nothing they can’t do if they put their minds to it. There’s no one path to anything. If they want to do it, they’ll find a way,” he says.

“I also want them to know that they should love other people exponentially, because love increases love. Hate increases hate—there’s enough of that in the world today—but love, that is so important for our world.”