7.08.2011

Thirty-Three Years

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.

15 comments:

  1. I grew up in a split home, with a biological father who was away. When I was 10, he gave up his parental rights and was out of my life for the next 11 years. (My step-father then adopted me promptly, and he is who I refer to as my father now) Now, I'm 21, and wouldn't you know, he's trying to get back in my life. It will not be happening. But sometimes, I think about it, and I realize how much this has impacted my life.

    My parents (mom and adoptive father) always told me, you date to get married. If something doesn't work out, then it isn't meant to, but at least you went into it with the goal to get married.

    When I started dating Boyfriend, he and I were under interesting circumstances. He was going to Korea in a year, and openly told me (over Valentine's dinner nonetheless) that we would break up. I refused to let that happen, because I knew he was different than the others. You know? Well, now he's in Korea, and we're still dating, and we are excited as hell to see each other in 2 months (it's been 4) and everything is going fantastic.

    The moral of my Internet-savy robot rant ;) is that you don't really find love, it finds you. Even if it's your dad's co-worker, and he's leaving the country in a few months. Cliche' I know, but if its meant to be, it is. Your parents are proof of that. :D

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  2. I was a little afraid that someone might get offended, thinking I was saying, "They did it right and if your parents didn't do it this way, they were wrong!" So I'm glad it spoke to you in the way it was intended. Because really, it's the ideal to have a mom and a dad who love you and stay together and stay in your life. And I'm just grateful to have experienced the ideal, because I think it has helped me demand the ideal for myself.

    I'm so glad you've found someone you want to share you life with. I'm sorry you've had to go through some hard stuff with your biological father, but it sounds like you were blessed with a good adoptive father!

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  3. Jane George7/9/11, 12:53 AM

    oh that was beautiful! you have made me want to be a nicer wife! xxxx

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  4. Awww! That's so sweet. The thing is, they make it seem so easy!

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  5. Janmary, N Ireland7/9/11, 1:53 AM

    A wonderful tribute to your parents - I too am grateful for my christian parents and their witness in my life. I hope my own marriage will be such a success.

    Thanks for sharing. Visiting via The Red Dress.

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  6. I love hearing this. Reading this? Whatever. You know what I mean.
    A wonderful marriage is a great thing to witness first-hand. You SHOULD aspire to be so happy. You shouldn't settle for something less. Sure. Have your 'fun'. (There are plenty of cute nice guys around for that.) But marry the man that you can easily imagine spending the next 50+ years with, even if a portion of them might be really, really hard.

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  7. What a lovely tribute to your parents! I hope you shared this with them.

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  8. 42 years ago (on June 28th) my parents wed. My husband's parents will celebrate 42 years the end of next month. I think the gift they gave us of showing up how to stay married and loving is one of the best ever. As my husband and I strive to keep God the foundation of our relationship, and love one another selflessly, we have that great example to look to. Thanks for sharing this story because sometimes I think we may be the only ones lucky enough to have such a gift. Congrats to your folks, and here's praying God's will for a marriage of your own!

    http://beanonparade.blogspot.com

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  9. How wonderful it is that your parents loved and made a beautiful family- one that made you feel loved and safe- one that you were happy and grew up to be such an appreciative daughter. I'm sure they feel blessed and very proud of you as well.

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  10. Thanks for stopping by! I think your marriage is already started off on the right foot, if you had parents you admire like this!

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  11. That's the plan, but the Lord is having me wait for now. I hope that means he's really, really good... ;)

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  12. My mom reads the blog occasionally, but she hasn't said anything. I'm not sure if I want to call her and be all, "Yo, go read my blog! You're on it..." but I want her to know that all of these things are true and straight from my heart.

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  13. Linnea, I pray you get to see that your own marriage is an example to those around you, too. That you became the blessing you received. Congrats to your parents and his--42 years is amazing!

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  14. I hope every day that I make them proud of me, because their regard is Godly and full of wisdom. And also because they love me. They're pretty great, in my opinion. ;)

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  15. Of course I read it Sweetie! So did Dad. We love you so much and are really touched by your words. We are so blessed to have such an amazing family. You, Sister, Big Brother and Biggest Brother bring us such joy. And of course, let's not forget the newest member. Sorry, but she's my current favorite!

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