My parents divorced when I was young–around 9 or so–so my impressions of marriage and family were skewed by the time I reached adulthood. My mom did the best she could and my step-dad is great for her. They are loving and kind to us and I love them dearly. But, a blended family isn’t God’s original design for families, nor is an absentee father. So, when hubs and I got married, I had a LOT of learning to do. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t understand what the Bible says about marriage. I just didn’t have any real-life examples to pattern after. I was still new to Word-centered church teachings and we were still getting to know our church family. I had a deep-seated fear of repeating the patterns of my parents. Statistics show that children who come from divorced families have a much higher chance of succumbing to divorce themselves.
But, God showed me that He is bigger than all of it. Bigger than my fears. Bigger than my parents and their patterns. Bigger than my lack of real-life role models. He is just bigger and greater than it all. And, He healed my heart.
He also gifted me with in laws.
They aren’t perfect–but, they don’t pretend to be. God has used them to correct and re-direct my thinking about parenting. They are loving, stable, hard-working, and most importantly to me, faithful. They stick with us. They are with us through thick, thin, baby after baby, financial ups and downs, moving, and staying, and job searching, and dreaming, and living our life together. They are to me God’s gift of an earthly example of how He wants us to understand the manner in which He loves us. They are Christ-loving, word-centered, prayerful parents. All they do is motivated by love…love for us and love for the Lord.
Watching them and being on the reciprocal end of their devotion and faithfulness has helped me see that parenting isn’t about completing a checklist of things that “good Christian parents do.” It’s about letting the love of God motivate us to go the extra mile, to be a walking, talking example of Christ for our children far into their adulthood. All we do must be done in love, not in law. I love that God has refined my thoughts and attitudes about parenting through Charlie’s parents–my “in-loves.” I love that while most people complain about their spouse’s parents, God continually reminds me that mine are an obvious gift and a part of the healing He has brought about in my life. Knowing them has helped me to appreciate and love my own parents–flaws and all–much more.
So as I write this here in the heart of their home, I am grateful…for their love and compassion, for their generosity and willingness to walk to the mountain peaks and shadowy valleys. For their example…for their love of Christ.
Thank You, Lord, for my husband’s parents. Bless them greatly. Make me a blessing to them as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.