From the beginning of this new blog series, I need to let you know something:
My parents are amazing.
Nope…you won’t need to wait for the “other” shoe to drop. There is no “but” as if I was going to use the blog-osphere to blast Hal and Linda (my parents) and my criticism of their job at raising me and my sister.
Please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes. I do not elevate anyone above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.”
But I found myself in a mode a few weeks ago. I had been doing some pre-marital counseling, received phone calls from other pastors about marriage issues, and had been reading some marriage blogs. As I read the blogs and thought though my phone calls, I realized something about some of the unhealthy marital situations I was a privy to:
I didn’t see many of those issues growing up.
Don’t get me wrong. Hal and Linda Barringer have their issues. How do I know that? I have issues and I’m told I have a lot of them (especially my father) in me. So they are not perfect in the least.
But…it began with a small list. And with that small list, I want to pour out in a series of blogs the things my parents didn’t teach me.
First, what didn’t my parents teach me? They didn’t teach me that the children were priority over the marriage.
I knew dad loved mom. I knew mom loved dad. I knew that when the nest was empty, what I had seen before me would last because their marriage didn’t stop because of 3 children born. Even when tragedy hit our home and my younger brother went to be with Jesus, what I saw before me was a strong marriage (not perfect) founded in a faith in One who has the strength, mercy, grace, and peace to get our family through ANYTHING! They will forever be living testimonies of that.
Why are so many marriages failing in the mid-years of life? There are numbers of things I could list. At the top of the list, there are those that put their marriage on hold because of children. Hal and Linda did not. They didn’t teach me that. In fact they taught me the contrary.
In my years of being at home, not once if I expressed I needed them, did my parents ever fail at stepping up. We were not spoiled (even though I think my little sister was more spoiled than me…but that’s an older brother speaking). There wasn’t a single football game that was parentless. Every major event in my life, was always guarded in their prayers, involvement, and wisdom. I know they have regrets…but who amongst us can’t look back with 20/20 and want to change things to make things better?
What Rachael and I viewed was strong. They would hang out with friends. They served together in ministry. They prayed together. They laughed together. To the chagrin of me and Rach, they kissed and hugged in front of us (which still disturbs me).
But know this: I, as a child/teen, NEEDED them to place their marriage as priority. I need to see a father defend his wife. I needed a parent structure that had a unified front. For my life as child and teen, I need to view two people who stuck together, through the power of Christ, traverse through life-events that have the power to cripple marriages. I didn’t need a best friend(s). I needed parents. School and church provided me with the friendships to fill those needs. I needed mom to love dad and dad to love mom. I needed my parents, together, put their marriage as a priority. Because of that, I benefited with the structure and example I needed to know what a healthy Christ-centered marriage looks like. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Mom and dad, you didn’t teach me that your marriage was secondary to anybody or anything. When I think of you, I think of 1 Corinthians 11:1:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
That’s what I’ve done. I’ve followed you. Like you, I’ve got some regrets with my 20/20 hindsight (hey, we’re human). But me, Anne, and my children are very grateful that they have you to follow.
See ya in part 2 of the series.
Thanks for letting me ramble…