My parents recently celebrated their 35th anniversary.
If you stop and think about it, that fact could probably stand alone as a pretty good post. But, there's so much more to the story.
My mom is not my dad's first wife. My mom and dad were pregnant with my sister before they got married. My dad is a recovering alcoholic. Theirs is a great story of grace, forgiveness and salvation.
I lived the first five years of my life breathing in secondhand smoke (which might explain something about me!) and watching most of the adults in my life drink alcohol like I now drink soda. I vaguely remember my dad letting me taste his beer (further explanation of my current state).
Another vague memory I have is of my mother and me picking my dad up from jail after getting arrested for drunk driving.
Recently my dad and I went on a short camping/fishing trip and I got the chance to talk to him about some of these memories. It was good to hear it from somebody who remembers it better than I and it helped me put some of the pieces of my family's story together.
My dad told me his perspective about the day we picked him up from jail. It wasn't his first time there, but it was mine. My sister was old enough to be in school, but I was still at home. I guess I was in my pajamas when we walked in to get him and the sight of me hit him like a hammer.
That was more than 27 years ago and my dad hasn't had a drop of alcohol since. Not too long after that he quit smoking and decided it was time for us to start going to church. A clear memory I have is of him telling me we should start going to church and me replying, "I don't think so." Apparently my opinion didn't count for much back then because we started going to church and it was not very long before my dad accepted Jesus into his heart and was made new.
The great thing about all that stuff happening so long ago is that I don't remember it very well and most of my clearest memories are from after he was saved. It's also good to have the fuzzy memories I have of the bad times because it is a reminder to me of how good God is.
My mother grew up in a Christian home and I'm still not sure how she got hooked up with my dad, who was a divorced alcoholic. Maybe she was going through a rebellious stage. I guess I'll have to go camping with her sometime. Whatever the reason, I'm glad she took a chance on him and was on board with going to church.
My parents have served in the church almost as long as they've been attending church. My dad is a long-time Sunday school teacher and they both served as youth group leaders on an off throughout my time as a student.
My parents were fairly strict with my sister and me, at least compared to many of my friends growing up. I didn't see the value of this until later in life, but man am I glad they gave us those rules!
Now that I'm a dad and I have a daughter who is 5 and a son who is 3 (somewhere near the same ages of my sister and I when my dad stopped drinking) I'm trying to look at myself and see what I need to do differently. There are plenty of bad habits I should drop; plenty of good habits I should start.
The most important thing, however, is my relationship with Jesus. If I get one thing right as a parent, it's going to be setting an example of a life lived in relationship with Jesus. Now, I've got a long way to go before I consider myself a success at that, but at least I have a goal.
Who knows, maybe 27 years from now my son (and daughter) will look back and be as thankful as I am for a dad who gave his life to Jesus. That's my ultimate mission.