Thirty-three years ago today, a man in a dashing grey tuxedo and a woman in a gorgeous white dress changed my life forever. Thirty-three years ago today, a dashing man in a grey tuxedo and a gorgeous woman in a white dress were wed.
Thirty-three years ago, my dashing father and my gorgeous mother set an example of love that has impacted me in a million ways, some of which I have yet to discover or put into practice. And thirty-three years later, they went to dinner to celebrate that love and longevity. There was also the gift of an iPad given by the dashing man to the gorgeous woman as a memento of the thirty-three years of love, but that's not really important to our story.
What is important is this: my parents are amazing people who love each other and their children with a God-given and God-driven love. And I am so grateful for the choices that they made all those years ago. They entered their marriage with forever in mind, in a time when people own cars for longer than they wear their wedding bands. They decided, from the beginning, that Christ would be the center of their marriage. They knew that if they both always looked to Him, the rest would fall into place.
They were never afraid to kiss in front of us kids, but they were careful to avoid disagreeing within our hearing. They made a concerted effort to provide a stable household with a united parental front. They said, "I love you" everyday. They even had a game (read: mild competition) they played to be the first one each day to say, "I love you one more than you could ever love me." This usually happened at a minute after midnight in order to win, but the true sentiment was still there.
They raised four children as working parents, making sure that we had a least one of them at every school function and sport event. Sometimes, they didn't see each other except for passing in hallways, but they managed to steal a little time each day to check in, to reconnect, and to figure out all the things that needed figuring out. They were never flashy or ostentatious about their marriage, but all of us kids knew that they cherished each other and that they made time for one another.And we were better for it.
In a countless ways, sometimes through discussion, sometimes through example, they taught me what a marriage is. They respected each other, as breadwinners and care-takers and housekeepers and errand-runners, because they shared a partnership. They cut through all of the romance novel/chick flick trash and rose above the sitcom squabble and night time television drama to teach me that life is not a fantasy, but it's not drudgery either. Marriage is work and it's messy, but it produces a depth of joy deeper than anything else in life.
Sometimes, I wonder if their marriage is the reason I'm still single. The very fact that they were so happy and so successful taught me to settle for nothing less than a partner who loves me more than he loves himself--and that I would have to love him in the same fashion for it to work at all. And the joy they find in each other makes me ache for a husband to pour myself into, a friend to share my life with, a partner to join hearts with to take on all of the challenges ahead and bear the burdens of whatever comes, because that's how they live.
When I was in high school, several of my friends' parents split. Fathers abandoned their children for selfish pursuits. Mothers used kids as leverage to gain funding or checked out so they didn't have to bear the pain. Families lay broken all around me and my friends were left in the devastated wake. And I would come home and look at my parents and feel safe. Truly blessed to know they would both be there when I woke up and again when I went to bed.
Today, I watch my grown friends--the friends whose fathers left, whose mothers shut down, whose own marriages are now suffering. I see their fear of being abandoned again. I see the dysfunctional ways they speak to each other. I feel their hearts aching in silence, because they can't even pinpoint the source of their pain. And I ache alongside them. For the havoc wreaked by people put in their lives to love them, to protect them, to lead them. And I visit my parents' house and I feel safe. Truly blessed to know they will be side-by-side at my wedding, will play together with my children, and (Lord willing) will be hand-in-hand when they're one hundred and ten.
So. Mom, Papa. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart and to the tips of my toes, thank you for loving me so much that you put me third--that you focused on Christ first and that your next priority was each other. Thank you for making sure the roots of our home were stable and healthy, so we could grow up in a whole and happy home. Thank you for the example you set and the lessons you taught. I am the person I am, because of the commitment you made thirty-three years ago today.
Happy Anniversary. Here's to at least thirty-three more.