My parents love story started some 46 years ago. Two people, two families, two different paths, crossed and entwined into one story. Both knew pain, hurt and were wounded early in life. Their stories are not that different from yours or mine, they met, fell in love, were married and four years later I was born, their only child. Life was good; we traveled, shared family dinners, laughed, and suffered loss, moved from place to place with each of dad’s new orders and then later when his civilian jobs called. Close really doesn’t begin to cover the bond our family has always shared. Growing up I saw my parents love story unfold, sitting in awe of the love they shared.
When my dad first met my mom, she was a Philly beauty, just 19 and still recovering from a deep personal loss. My dad was a southern gentleman, 23, home from Vietnam, just out of the army deciding on what to do and where to go next. Their meeting to any stranger would seem like chance, but to those who know them; their love story is anything but. My parents love is nothing if but by design. Just nine months after their first encounter, my parents were married and their love story began to root itself deep and fierce. I grew up in a strong, loving and very close home. My parents not only loved one another, they loved me and gave of themselves selflessly to others more than anyone I know. It is by their example of sacrifice, strength and unconditional love I was made aware of how true love actually operates and because of my parent’s relentless love for one another and the Lord, I was crafted into the woman I am today.
I learned from my parents, no one is perfect and neither is anyone’s love story. True love endures many things including difficulties, hardships, hurt, pain, betrayal, desire, affection and emotion but most importantly compromise and communication. Despite what the media rams down our throats true love is not all roses, chocolates and knights on steads. Genuine love takes time, a grafting of souls and a blending of two hearts in order to become one life force. So Life Lesson #20 is this: Love is not a fairytale, it’s a diamond in the rough, transforming us into precious gems, beautiful in all our flaws and imperfections.
I could tell you each and every story, each hurt, joy and moment along the way but we’d be here for a very long time indeed. What I will share with you is this: My parents have given me a strong foundation on which I have built my own marriage as well as the ground work Johnny and I have laid together in the raising of our children. What I know is love’s not perfect; it’s hard and at times harsh. Yet as difficult as loving someone can be, love is rewarding in its perfect design. Loves greatest gift is that of forgiveness. After all, as 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “loves bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.” Love can overcome any and all adversity if we’d only learn to forgive and let go. In a perfect world love would flood us with butterflies all the time; we’d ride off into the sunset, living perfect, beautiful little lives never knowing the sting of pain, but that’s not reality. Love in its truest form is made up of many layers, chapters penned from comedy, tragedy and triumphs. A true love story is weaved together amongst fallen rose peddles, taken from the ashes of our pain and forged together to form our own unique and individual stories.
So this week as my parents begin celebrating 46 years of marriage I’m thankful to them for this understanding of love and how it shapes us as imperfect as we are. My parents are far from saints. The truth is they are in no way perfect without failures and neither is their story. In fact if you sat down and read through their story you would find just as many messy pages alongside glorious tales of romance and intrigue. In conclusion, what is painfully and still beautifully recorded is grace. Looking back on the past 41 years my life has been a part of my parents story I see in their imperfections the inspiration, the strength and the grace to allow love to shape my own story. Is my marriage perfect? Absolutely not, nor is it a replica of my own parents love story BUT because of their great example I know this love I share with my own husband will last. After all, all great love stories have to overcome tragedy in order to become timeless tales of true love which inspire us all.
By God’s hand, my parents have provided the greatest testament of true love in my life anyone could ask for. Happy 46th anniversary Mom and Dad, I am blessed to be called your daughter. I love you both so much!