Friday, January 11, 2013

Grandmother by Vocation

A little over a year ago, I became a grandmother. I now have two baby granddaughters, and I will, Lord willing, have one more grandchild next month.

On Wednesday, Kim posted on the doctrine of vocaton, especially as it applies to housewives. In a nutshell, the doctrine of vocation applied to my grandmotherhood is this: Grandmother is a role to which I am called by God, who called me simply by giving me grandchildren. "We arrive at our vocations" wrote Kim, through the oversight of God, "who ordains our circumstances." Or to draw from a verse she referenced, each believer leads "the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him" (1 Corinthians 7:17). The good Lord assigned two (so far) grandbabies to me, and called me to be their grandmother. I am a grandmother by vocation.

Right now, being a vocational grandmother consists mostly of holding, feeding, rocking, pacing, diapering, and playing peekaboo.* These are my grandmotherly duties, but they are more than mere duties. The doctrine of vocation elevates mundane physical tasks by giving them meaning and showing us God's own presence in them. When I rock my grandbaby, my arms are the arms of God's providence for her. God clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the air, and he provides for two little ones through my life.

Even unpleasant baby jobs are elevated through the doctrine of vocation. Luther said that God smiles on the father who washes diapers in Christian faith. How does one wash a diaper in Christian faith? By doing the dirty chore knowing it is service to one of God's creatures and service to God's will. The same smile of God, I'd think, goes for a grandmother changing a stinky or wrestling a stubborn toddler.

Eventually, I hope to be like Lois, who shared her faith with her grandchild Timothy. As they grow older, I want to help teach my grandchildren the scriptures.  But according to the doctrine of vocation, truly significant grandmotherly work—even spiritual grandmotherly work—doesn't depend on a grandchild's ability to listen and understand. A grandmother providing for the physical needs of her grandchildren is a tool in God's hand. She is God's gift to her children and grandchildren. What could be better than that?

If I'd understood the doctrine of vocation when my own children were little, would I have found as much joy in my young children then as I find in my grandchildren now?

*I know some grandmothers live far from their grandchildren, so they can't be involved in their everyday care. If these are your circumstances, they are circumstances given you and your grandchildren by God. Your grandmotherly calling is different than mine, but just as significant. God is still providing for your grandchildren through your life—in your prayers, cards, letters, phone calls, gifts, visits, and more.


  1. Somewhere in Gene Veith's book on vocation, I think he mentions that Luther saw people as "masks of God," doing God's work here on earth. I like that picture of God being behind the works we do. You are so blessed! I hope I get to have grandchildren some day!

  2. Thanks Rebecca and Kim!
    It is pure delight being a grandma - so happy for you Rebecca and look forward to the day for Kim!

  3. A good post. I've passed it onto several other grandmothers to read and reflect. It changes ones perspective when you think of the doctrine of vocation as a grandmother. Thanks!

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