Today is my parents 36th wedding anniversary. 37-38ish years ago my dad was a little league coach to a group of young boys, one of which was one of my older brothers. My mom thought he was a babe, my dad thought she was a fox (they were both right). She invited the coaches over for dinner one evening to thank them for being so great to my brother, and told my dad to bring his wife along. But as it turned out…
… he wasn’t married. And the plot thickens.
Having parents who are still married is now the exception and no longer the rule. This makes me really really sad. But also, really aware of how blessed I am. Our culture has a very morphed and contorted view of marriage, generally speaking. There are lots of reasons for this. A large one is based simply on statistics: if most marriages end in divorce, why bother? And I understand why individuals would be inclined to feel that way. After all, we don’t see many solid marriages in real life or even on television. And yet, no matter what those statistics say or what cynics say or what movies and culture tell me about marriage… I’ve seen a biblical example of it right before my eyes.
A SAMPLING OF WHAT MY PARENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME ABOUT LOVE:
- It’s hard. All good things are, this is a no brainer.
- It’s something you choose every day. Marriage isn’t a black hole in which you keep perpetually falling more and more in love. You must decide to stay there in the moments it would be easier to not.
- I’m not making a bold egalitarian vs. complementation stance here (although I could), but no matter what the conservative church or Mark Driscoll says, love is made up of mutual submission to one another and ultimately to Christ. My parents are partners. My parents fill what is lacking in the other so that they can most glorify God. My parents care deeply about the other’s relationship with God and tend to it.
- Love is praying together every morning even when you’re mad.
- Love is also dancing together [ Sidenote: the most romantic thing I have ever witnessed was when my dad built my mother a dance floor in our backyard with white christmas lights strung up around it. He led her out there and they danced and laughed and cried together ].
- Often you go places you don’t want to with people you don’t want to. Tough beans, do it with a smile because your spouse’s joy is more important than your comfort zone.
- You can be angry and you can yell and you can slam doors. But apologize.
But the main thing my parents taught me about love and ultimately marriage is that while it’s never perfect, it’s worth working for. My parents don’t have a romance like in The Notebook. They have a way better one. They hold one another while weeping over the loss of family members, or when face to face with health scares, or when life is just really really hard. But then, when the weeping has ceased, they tenderly set the sadness aside and play scrabble together on the back porch.
Happy anniversary, mom & dad. Thank you for teaching me about love, God, marriage, grace, and forgiveness.