After everyone had left, Jimmy remained. He wanted to speak with his Granddad alone. He had a question for him, one he didn’t want the rest of his family to hear.
“Granddad, did you enjoy your birthday?”
“Oh yes, the big Nine-Zero. Gosh, I think I’m getting old!” he said, followed by a joyful chuckle. He was still of sound mind, and never lost his humor. More than that, he was still full of love. Ever since Jimmy could remember, it was his Granddad who always made him feel loved. Growing up in a religious home, his parents also used the world ‘love’ a lot, but he rarely felt it. But with his Granddad it was more than a word, it was a beautiful experience.
“Hey, before I head off, I had a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for a while. It’s about love.” He pulled up his seat a little closer. “It seems to me that the whole world believes in love, and believes that they do love, but the definition of love can vary completely. I wanted to ask your opinion on this, cause whatever your definition of love is, it’s the closest to the truth I’ve ever experienced, I’m sure of it.”
His Granddad smiled. “Ha! Trying to butter me up with compliments are you? Well, it worked.” He smiled again. “Jimmy, I’m an old man, and old men can sometimes babble a little too much, for a little too long, so I’ll try to keep this short.”
“Okay, hit me with it old man,” Jimmy said affectionately.
“Well, since you’re asking me, I think the way one goes about defining love is how they define God, and vise-visa. So if one defines God as judgmental and seeking out the flaws, sins and weaknesses of people, then that will be the definition of love for that person too. If one sees God as full of grace, and covering over the weakness of people with no judgement in his heart towards them, then that is how that person will define love too.
When we love, we do what we believe love is, but we don’t all believe love is the same thing. If one thinks judging others is love, it’s most likely because they think that is how God is. If one loves by being non-judgmental, and full of grace, that is because that’s how they believe God is. If God is love, then it seems reasonable to conclude that how we define God is how we will define love.”
“So then, how do you define God, Pops?”
His Granddad looked into his Grandchild’s eyes, and shared a story with him before he even opened his mouth to respond. “In my opinion,” he finally said, “God is the God of all grace. He doesn’t judge me, he covers over my weaknesses, he is patient, his grace is enough to see me as I am in his eyes, and not the mess I fall into quite often. He doesn’t see my faults, he sees me. You get it? He sees me. He values me. He holds no accusations against me. Yes, siree, that’s my God. Simple, I know, but believe it; and more than anything I desire for my definition of God to mirror my definition of love.”
They sat there in silence for a few moments before Jimmy saw his Granddad close his eyes, and lean back in his chair with a look of great satisfaction on his worn out face.
“Yes siree, God is love, and that love is perfect, graceful, and beautiful. Even to an old man like me that love makes me feel young. Yes, siree, that love will make me forever young, I’m sure of it. If you want to love like me, just love in a way that makes people feel young again, free again, and alive again. It doesn’t take much, in fact it takes just one thing. Don’t judge them. Don’t let judgement hold any place in your definition of love, and you’ll be loving like the way this old man does.”
Jimmy laughed. “Old? You’re forever young.”
His Granddad smiled. “That-a-boy, make me feel young again, free again, and alive again.”