As we continue to watch marriage after marriage struggle around us, Kim and I have made a special effort to focus on what we’re thankful in our lives (and relationship), rather than concentrate on the sticky points. Our society continues to reinforce the philosophy that one’s happiness is of utmost importance, that it must be achieved and protected at all costs. Regardless of the emotional fallout that you might leave your life – and the lives of your children – if you’re not happy? Drop anchor, jump ship or just torpedo the whole thing to smithereens.
So as Kim and I thought about our children and what we want to empower them with as parents, we recognized how incredibly blessed our own childhoods were. Both our parents are still married and in a loving, respectful marriage. That, in itself, is astounding. Jaw-dropping. Inspiring.
Now, I love to encourage people. To give them a word of hope when I’m in position to do so, a verbal shot in the arm, if you will. So I suggested we take our admiration one step further and write the thank you letters our parents deserved.
I’m not posting this to make you think I’m some kind of perfect son or any other ego-puffing motive you can dream up. I’m posting this because I want to remind those of us who are married parents why we do what we do. Why it’s worth sticking it out through the crappy times. Worth learning how to communicate and be civil and mature before the divorce, rather than learning the same lessons afterwards. (Because, let’s face it, you’re going to have to learn to do it all anyways. Or else shrivel into a bitter and crusty individual, what with all that unforgiveness burning a hole in your heart. Your choice.)
Dear Mom & Dad,
As we’ve had the opportunity to counsel couples the past few years (and watch other marriages struggle or hiccup or even dissolve completely), we’ve come to appreciate even more what God has given to us. But more than just our marriage and relationship, we want to take a moment to thank you for your marriage, and count the blessings that it has provided to us.
So take a moment to stop moving, sit down and allow us to praise you for the greatest gift you could have ever given us: your marriage.
-Kevin & Kim
Thank You For…
In a world where people are quick to walk away from difficult situations and relationships, your commitment to stay married – through better or worse – is incredibly rare.
It’s easy to react to the world and our circumstances based on what our senses tell us. What we see directly affects what we believe, and what we believe affects what we do and how we approach life itself. Your steadfast, stubborn faith taught us that there is a God who loves us and is worth serving, even when we don’t understand all of His ways. Your walk has provided us with the footprints to follow as we make our way in life, and we are grateful to follow where you have gone before us. We will be forever grateful for our heritage of faith.
Selfish comes naturally to all of us. The idea of acting in a manner that doesn’t directly benefit us is foreign to a culture that promotes self over all. Yet your integrity – your constant drive to do what is right and good, regardless of the consequences to yourself – is a rare jewel, and one that we value above all else.
Everyone wants to believe that they have good advice to offer the world, but to receive true, godly wisdom from a parent? Invaluable. Your words were more powerful than you ever realized, and while we can’t say they were always welcome at the time in our youth? We can now say as adults that they were (and are still) appreciated.
Your Merciful Grace
It’s not like we didn’t provoke you over the years. Yet time after time, instead of reacting out of anger or judgment, you showed us what it meant to extend mercy and grace. You modeled true forgiveness to us before we even recognized our need for it.
When so many families are consumed with the never-ending quest to acquire more and more “stuff,” you kept your head about you. Instead of burying yourself under the crushing weight of constant debt, you showed us what it meant to make purchases with wisdom and restraint.
Security and Stability
As divorce is becoming more and more common, it’s easy to see how devastating the effects can be on a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Thank you for providing a secure, stable environment where we were free to mature at a proper rate, unburdened by unnecessary fears or self-doubts.
We have failed. We have struggled. We have doubted. We have succeeded. We have celebrated. And our lives continue to have ups and downs, as everyone’s life does. At every stage of our lives, you have demonstrated to us that you love us. Sometimes that love has been easy to share and show, and other times you’ve probably had to take a couple of deep breaths or shake your head for a bit. But through it all, you’ve managed to shower us with love – no matter what.
Life is hard. Your resilience and ability to keep a sense of humor and to laugh – despite what the world throws in your path – is to be commended. And no matter how many whoopee cushions were confiscated by uptight English professors in school, or toilet-seatscarefully covered in Saran Wrap – it was all worth it.
Your Good Name
As any news article will attest, it’s easy for people to make one bad decision that will have lasting consequences on an entire family line. We recognize this and praise you for protecting the heritage of our name, for creating a history where our names are received with smiles and gladness rather than scorn. Being able to pass along the legacy of a good name to our own children is a responsibility we don’t take lightly, but it’s one we accept with joy.
You have been patient with us, as we’ve moved constantly, changed careers regularly, changed life goals and ambitions, and as you’ve watched us raise our kids. Thanks for being patient with us. And for being patient with our children. Who like to play with things until they break, whether they’re toys or not.
Fair and Balanced. (Just like Fox News. Heh.) Thank you for having a balanced perspective on life. Contrary to the world’s perspective on life being about money, success, impact, cars, and titles… you have taught us that life is about God and people. Loving God and loving others. All the other stuff comes and goes. Thanks for keeping perspective.
Conflict Resolution & Communication
We won’t bother trying to convince you that you didn’t have conflict. But better than not having conflict, you demonstrated for us how to resolve conflict. With respect. With graciousness. With forgiveness.
Honestly? We think that we have the most generous and selfless parents out there. We are continually blessed by ways that you give to our family, the blessing that you are to your friends and communities, and the ways that you serve in your churches at home. Thank you for constantly giving of yourself and modeling that behavior for us.
Your Faithful Obedience
You believe in God. And when things get tough, you never stopped believing. That faithful obedience has been a wonderful example for us, as we deal with what life throws at us. Thank you for not giving up on God. Thank you for obeying Him even when His plans don’t necessarily make sense or the people around you don’t show support. And thank you for your prayers over the years. We know that your faith has had a huge impact on our lives.
Your Mutual Decision-making
Simply put, you have shown us how to make marriage work. Not by dominance or manipulation or passive-aggressive persuasion. But by mutual respect, love and devotion. By listening to each other’s perspectives. And by trusting one another.
Mom & Dad? Thank you both. For EVERYTHING.