Several weeks ago, I wrote about the things that my parents did right (at least from my perspective) as they raised me and my sister. What I neglected to mention though, was that not only were my parents great parents, there were unbelievable examples of a godly marriage. See, my parents made a difference in my life not only because of how they treated me, but because of how they treated each other. And this example, just as much as their parenting patterns of behaviors, was formative in my life. So, in honor of my parents and Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share a few other ways that my parents made a difference.
One of the most important things I learned from my parents’ marriage is the beauty of sacrifice. A lot of times when we hear about sacrifice, we think about the big heroic gestures. However, I learned from my parents that sacrifice was just as important in the day-to-day decisions. My favorite example of this is my mom’s willingness to always eat the leftovers. It took me years to realize it, but I finally figured out that the reason she did this wasn’t because she was overly infatuated with food that had already been prepared. Instead, she did it so that my dad didn’t have to. It was a simple, yet incredibly sacrificial way to do something for him. She actively demonstrated her love, one reheated bite at a time.
Another way that my parents made a difference is that they always had each other’s back. Growing up. I always knew that if I disobeyed my dad, I would be in trouble. But if I disobeyed my mom, and my dad found out about it, my punishment would be worse because in that case, not only had I disobeyed, but I had hurt my mom and my dad was intent on protecting my mom from hurt. It was very clear that taking on my mom, meant taking on my dad too, and vice versa. I can not think of a single time that my parents bad-mouthed each other, gave conflicting instructions, or in any other way demonstrated that they weren’t a team. If the world attacks, they are each others’ defenders. If one of them has a problem, it is quickly “their” problem to solve. When one hurts, they both do; and when one rejoices, they celebrate together. It’s very clear that “what God has joined together” will not be separated.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my parents invest in each other. My mom is the world’s best softball scorekeeper, and it’s not because she loves the game. But my dad does and my mom loves him, and so therefore, countless afternoons and evenings were spent together at the ballfields. My mom is a teacher who loves to support her students, my dad goes to the students’ activities, because he loves to support my mom. They do things that are the other’s cup of tea because when they do so, they’re together. The investment pays off in big and small ways. Watch my parents work on a project, and you’ll see it’s like watching a carefully choreographed dance. They anticipate what each other will do, the words that will be said, and what the other needs. Now the choreography isn’t always perfect, but it can get pretty close, and regardless of how the project turns out, at the end of the day, they’re together They’ve learned to love and appreciate the things that matter to the other, because they love and appreciate each other.
My parents were great parents, but they were also great examples of what it means to be a godly husband and godly wife. And while the world rarely acknowledges either of these things, I know that my own marriage is stronger for it. And I know that in heaven, their reward will surely be great.