Written by: Darlene Ettinger
Seems only a few, short years ago but was probably 6 years ago since I joined my mother and daughters for a visit with my “Beppe” (a Frisian-Dutch name for grandmother). She was in her nineties and we treasured those times together. Before leaving that day we decided to take a picture of all of our hands in a circle, showing the difference in the generations. After she passed away, I pondered the deeper meaning of that photo. Beppe had worked hard farming, lived through war, immigrated to Canada with young children, raised her family and never wavered in leading the ongoing generations by her example of faith, love and devotion to God. Her hands were large and I could easily picture them strong enough for the life she had lived and yet now the wrinkles revealed their age, but also their beauty.
As a granddaughter, I knew them best as gentle hands that continually drew me into a warm embrace and accepted who I was. Her eldest daughter was my mama – also known to my children as “Beppe”. It’s not until one has children of their own that realization dawns as to the amount of work a mother performs.
My mama took up the torch and carried it well, leading by example and instilling onto yet another generation the joy of loving God and serving Him with incredible passion, going on to become a gifted author and speaker. Her hands were also aging, not quite as transparent yet as her mother’s hands, but still a reflection of her years. Those hands had wiped countless tears from my face, embracing me in love and acceptance repeatedly both as a child and a grown woman.
My journey took a difficult turn a decade ago, when I found myself starting over again after a marriage breakdown that followed 23 years of marriage. A pastor’s wife with 5 children– not yet fully raised. She became my dearest friend in my darkest hour. Those hands firmly took hold of me and never let go, while continuing to shine the light of God’s amazing love.
I remember after my grandmother passed away, having a desire to emulate the role of “Beppe” not only in name, but in actions also. So, I became the next generation “Beppe” to my new grandbabies. Little did I know that a few short months after I took on this title, the role would completely change. Two years ago my dear mama passed away very suddenly after just turning 70 years of age. Looking at my own hands, they didn’t look quite seasoned enough yet to accept being bumped into first position. Sure, my hands showed some age as I had worked to raise my family and re-build again from the ruins of the storm, but were they strong enough? Would the guidance and love I had received from the elder hands be sufficient to help me rise again as a leader? Would I fail for future generations?
As I pondered these questions, I picked up my Bible and God spoke to me through a verse I happened to read. It is found in Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye. (NKJV)
Oh yes! My hands didn’t need to carry the load, He would lead me, teaching me what I needed to know. His hand covers all of ours! I thought then of my daughters, hands still young and beautiful, not marred by years of work as they had yet to enter marriage, motherhood, and other challenges. Hands still being taught how to reach out in love to others and to find God but sadly, their hands had wiped each other’s tears in the years of turmoil and pain and my hands lost some precious years as they struggled. They have set-backs to overcome. The circle of life continually moves forward, not even stopping for us to sometimes catch our breath. Babies have now appeared, and little hands reach out eagerly to be held, cared for, loved unconditionally, taught the deep, abiding faith of their ancestors and be re-assured they belong.
My hands now face their greatest challenge and will earn the wrinkles that may appear during the coming years, for it is time to pick up the torch and come alongside my children and grandchildren with much prayer, offering healing, understanding, unconditional love, warmest embraces and deep, abiding and passionate faith in God.
Never underestimate the power of a mama’s touch!
Darlene EttingerWith deep gratitude, Darlene is a servant of Christ and takes great delight in following Him. God has blessed her with 2 sons and 2 daughters-in-law, 3 daughters and one son-in law, as well as 4 beautiful granddaughters. Over the years, she has been a stay-at-home mom while home-schooling her children during the years of being in church ministry throughout different parts of Canada. She is now single living in New Brunswick, working for the government and gives as much time and devotion possible to family and friends. Darlene has a love and compassion for women that are desperate or hurting, and enjoys teaching and training of God’s amazing grace and love. She knows from experience that He is the great healer and all things are possible through Him.