by M. Regina Cram
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot
To my dear grandchildren,
You are just babies now, but the day will come when you will read this letter and understand why I say these things.
I do not want you to be happy.
I do not want you to have financial stability, good health, a satisfying career or loyal friends. I don’t care if you go to college or buy your own home.
I want you to be holy.
I want you to seek God with all your heart, to have an intimate relationship with him and to yearn for him above all else. I want you to know richness beyond compare as you spend your life loving and serving God.
But most of all, I want you to be holy: dedicated to the service of God, set apart for God, endowed with purity and virtue.
I’m not opposed to happiness or success or good health. I just don’t think they’re essential for a fulfilling life.
What would this life of holiness look like? I’m not talking about the flavorless brand of religion that promises happiness if we go to church and try to be nice. Unfortunately, we’ve lived this anemic version of Christianity for so long that we think it’s the real thing. It’s not. In reality, Jesus wants more than our attendance at Mass; Jesus wants our hearts. Anyone can go to church; it takes guts to take it with us into the world. God wants our total surrender, not just weekend visitation.
Such a life will not be easy, my little ones, especially when you are beset by hardships. There is no way to avoid pain and misfortune, but I can promise that God will hold you so close that it will be impossible to tell where one of you ends and the other begins.
It is God who is the constant; God who gives meaning to life. Even if you do not see this now, you will grow to understand this truth, especially as you age. I assure you that when you’re on your deathbed, you will not lament, “I wish I had gone to more meetings.” You won’t be daydreaming about stainless steel kitchen appliances, or the Patriots’ odds for winning the Super Bowl or whether to buy a Mustang convertible or an Audi hybrid.
You may, however, wish that you had given more and accumulated less. You may regret that you did not love God more and yourself less. And I’m pretty sure you’ll grasp, maybe for the first time, the inestimable value of God. You see, my little ones, when you are facing eternity, you will focus on what truly matters. I know this to be true because I once lay on what we thought was my deathbed. Believe me, I was not thinking about the newest iPhone or how to invest my IRA. I was focused on things that matter.
And so, my beloved grandbabies, I pray that you will become men and women of compassion, mercy, principle and faith. I hope you will feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit those in prison. I pray that you will alleviate suffering by getting into the trenches with those in need. And I pray that your heart will be full of joy as you serve God’s people.
In the Gospels, Jesus told the disciples that if anyone came to him without hating his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even his own life, he could not be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus was not advocating hatred or family discord. Rather, he was using a literary device to stress that their love for God must surpass their love for all else, including family.
That’s what I am saying here, sweet ones. Your love for God must surpass all else in your life. It’s the only way to be truly happy. And that’s the kind of happiness I wish for you.
With all my love,
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer. She is the author of Do Bad Guys Wear Socks? Living the Gospel in Everyday Life.