Today is my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary. As a kid, it never crosses your mind that life might be hard for your parents. You watch them work and take care of you without fully understanding what it takes to build a life together. You don’t recognize the determination, the strength, the commitment, and the faithfulness it takes to weather every storm together and raise a family. You can’t comprehend the incredible feat it is to stay together when it feels easier to part ways.
For 34 years, my parents have loved one another and loved their family, waking up every single morning and putting everyone else before themselves. For 12,410 days, they have pushed aside their own needs and wants and have selflessly served their God and each other. Day after day, decision after decision, they have always ensured that Jesus Christ was their foundation and their sure-footing. They have endured trial after trial and heartache after heartache but were always able move forward, secure in their trust in their God. Never giving up. Never falling away. Just one foot in front of the other, praising God all the way through.
They have never been in the spotlight, but the hardest and holiest work rarely is. That’s the beauty of their life together. Every conversation about the Lord with friends, every name on my mother’s prayer board in her room, every selfless decision, every tear shed for their family, every moment of heart-wrenching worship, every generous gift, every sacrifice has been done without the need for recognition and applause. Not to be seen or noticed, they have given their lives in service to God and to others. They said yes to the Lord and never looked back.
My parents have learned the art of simple obedience. They trust that God never asked us to be spectacular but rather has asked us to be faithful, and there are no two people more faithful than they are.
Their names may never be known worldwide, but they will forever be engraved into the foundation of our family for generations to come. They are pillars. Unparalleled in their devotion to God and their everyday decision to love Him and love His people.
So how do you measure the impact of a person’s life when what they gave you was priceless? How do you adequately tell them thank you for showing you Jesus and teaching you everything you needed to know about faith, commitment, family, and work ethic by the simple eloquence of their example?
My parents were steadfast when other people would have been faithless. They were brave when other people would have cowered in fear.
And for them, brave meant surrendering to God’s perfect will, even when it didn’t make sense.
Brave meant sacrificing their own personal dreams to make sure that their children’s needs were met.
Brave meant staying rooted in one place after all the extended family moved away so that their children had stability in their lives, even when it left them feeling isolated and alone.
Brave meant working graveyards and being sleep deprived for years so that a parent was always home.
Brave meant worshipping God at all times, no matter what, unconditionally.
Brave meant holding hands and praying together every morning and every evening regardless of how they were feeling.
How do I thank them for raising me to be brave too?
For showing me that Jesus Christ is the only solid foundation and to Him alone is where my loyalty should go. For teaching me that I am strong and capable and smart. For never pushing stereotypical roles on me and celebrating where I am in life. For reminding me that it’s okay for me to speak my truth and stand my ground. For letting me know that it is okay to stand on the side of justice, even if you are standing alone.
How do I explain what was rooted in my heart after seeing my father stand on our roof, assess the damage from a hurricane, and then lift his hands and tell God that he would worship Him anyway. Or by going shopping with my mother for clothes for a student at her job that was going through a hard time. Or by being a little girl and helping my father fill out money orders for the organizations that he supported every single month (and still supports today). Or by the countless evening walks with my mother talking about life. Or by seeing them swallow their pride and walk to the altar together when they have needed prayer.
It’s not possible. All I know is that for the rest of my life, I will live in gratitude for how they raised me, shaped me, and loved me.
So happy anniversary, mom and dad. Every single aspect of your lives points people to Jesus. To His hope and His mercy and His love. No one who has had the gift of knowing you has been untouched by your character, integrity, love, and faithfulness to God and to one another.
Thank you for loving your family well. Thank you for the gift of being raised in a Christian home. Thank you for this life.
Your legacy will be that of two people who lived to know Him and to make Him known. Two people who always managed to do the next right thing until it carried them all the way home.