I am the product of who my parents are and how they raised me; this is not unusual. Ultimately, it was God who created me, and His design was a unique blend of my parents’ characteristics. That I combine my father’s talkativeness with my mother’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude, is just the tip of the iceberg. When I reflect on my family and upbringing, one thing is quite clear: I have been blessed. This week, my parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My father insists that the only accomplishment is that both of them stayed alive to be married that long. I don’t like to contradict Daddy, but his generation hasn’t exactly been stellar with commitment.
My parents are Baby Boomers. It was their generation that sent divorce rates skyrocketing. While preparing this blog, I did a quick internet search and discovered that the divorce rate for people over fifty is rising. Their generation still hasn’t settled down! I am blessed that my parents are not typical Baby Boomers. While my parents were saying, “I do,” many of their peers were abusing drugs, behaving promiscuously, and generally rebelling against the lifestyle of their own parents’ generation. All this was against the backdrop of a divisive war and a controversial draft. By God’s grace, my father was in the Coast Guard and was headed to Antarctica instead of Vietnam. You could look back on what was happening fifty years ago and say that it was a different world. But, in my mind, it was just the beginning of the culture shifting toward where it is today.
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?
The righteous who walks in his integrity- blessed are his children after him!
I was part of the first generation where it was common for a child’s parents to be divorced. While I never had the least concern for my own family, I knew many kids at school who were affected by the trend. My best friend in elementary school didn’t have a father around, at all. While the culture around them was rejecting Judeo-Christian morality, my parents were quietly raising three daughters to follow Christ. We always knew that they loved each other. They didn’t like to be apart, even for a short time, and Mother always told us that Daddy was her best friend.
I often hear Christians say that motherhood is the highest calling for a woman. But I firmly believe that the highest calling for any believer is Jesus’ call to preach the Gospel and make disciples in all nations. For parents, of course this calling must begin at home with their children. My sisters and I received the Gospel both in our home and weekly at church. We always went to both Sunday School and the worship service. Attendance was not optional, yet there was no legalism inferred by it. We were taught that salvation was through Christ alone and not by our works or church attendance.
Until recently, I didn’t realize that the solid Biblical and theological foundation I received as a child was actually uncommon. Part of this can be attributed to the church my parents chose to attend. But, they didn’t just attend; they served in a variety of areas. They devoted their time and resources to the church, sacrificially. Their actions taught us about service, generosity, and compassion. The result is that all these years later, we are still walking with God. We have been joined in this journey by my brother-in-law and my two nephews. I am certain that my parents’ example has had an impact on each of them, as well.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.
Some people my parents’ age measure success by the wealth they accumulate for retirement. Others measure success by the number of grandchildren they have. In either regard, I am sure my parents wouldn’t measure up to the world’s standards. Two of three daughters unmarried would seem like tragic failure to those who think that success is marrying off children so that they can have babies. Fortunately, we Bentleys don’t care much what the world thinks! My parents taught me through their marriage that I shouldn’t settle for less than a best friend and true partner. They are at least part of the reason I am single at forty, writing a blog about how my commitment to God is more important than any human relationship. That is real success.
I want to be clear that I am not judging or condemning those who have been divorced. I have friends and family members, people whom I love dearly, who have gone through divorce. I also do not want to suggest that parents are at fault when their children rebel against the way they were raised. There are many complicated reasons that marriages fail and families struggle. At the heart of it all is sinful human nature. My family is not perfect; we are sinners, too. We’ve all made mistakes. I personally, have made more than my share. I know my parents would agree that life doesn’t turn out the way you planned. But, fifty years ago, they made a commitment to go through life together, and they’ve stuck it out. I want to honor them because I believe this is an accomplishment. I love them and I thank God for blessing me with them. Usually, I seek to honor them with my actions, but today I choose to honor them with my words.