So my Mum and Dad arrived yesterday.
I don’t get to see them all that much because they live hundreds of miles away (i.e. they are almost as far South as you can go in the UK and I am almost as far North), but it does mean that time with them is precious. I haven’t lived at home since I was 18, which is now about 9 1/2 years ago, but still time with them is precious.
And as long-term it’s looking like I could well be living in a completely different continent from them, I think the time is looking even more precious on this visit.
But, it’s also been making me think about the importance and centrality of family in the sight of God. And of the reasons that He speaks so highly of ‘honouring your father and mother, SO that it may go well with you…’
And I have concluded, simply, that I am blessed.
Really, really blessed.
So, in tribute to my wonderful parents, and in thankfulness to the God who gave me them, here are 10 reasons that I think my Mum and Dad could be up there with the best-parents-in-the-world-ever.
1. They are fun. Like, really, genuinely and beautifully fun. We have always found ourselves on adventures, and random outings, and lost-in-the-middle-of-no-where-in-a-landrover type stories, but yet, my parents have always felt like more than just ‘my parents’, and very-much-like my friends. Driving a flooded coastal road in a landrover, my Mum sitting on the bonnet, my Dad behind the wheel, and a random boat of fishermen sailing alongside and cheering us on… these are the memories that seriously make a childhood! 🙂
2. My Mum and Dad allowed me to be who I was in God. They never pushed me into believing, they never forced me to go to Church, and they never made me ‘do things their way’. They just listened. And encouraged. And when I wanted to play worship for hours, they just brought me a guitar. And when I wanted to get up at 5am to pray, they got up too and made me cups of tea. And when I wanted to give up TV and melt all my secular CDs as a teenager, they just encouraged me to be true to what Holy Spirit was telling me. And that gave me more confidence in God than any other kind of encouragement.
3. They taught me that sacrificial giving was part of a normal Christian life. Now, we never had tons of money when I was growing up. In fact, looking back now, there were probably some points where money was really tight. But, the only memories I have, involve my parents giving. And giving without restrain. If a family friend needed a car, they’d give a car. If someone needed food, they’d give food. If someone needed rescuing, they’d be there. Our house was always filled with waifs and strays and people who just needed loving on. And they gave, even if it meant that we went without. And I loved it. And I love that in that I learnt that physical possessions have no eternal value, and that people are the deep eternal loves of Abba’s heart.
4. I love that they always made my friends feel like they were part of our family. When I was 12, one of my friends showed up at our house on Christmas day because her Dad hadn’t come home from his work drinking party. But, as natural as anything, the meal for three stretched to four, and the presents had a quick change of name tags and were shared out as if she had always been invited. And that girl was forever-marked by the kindness of her classmates’ Mum and Dad. Even now, my parents pull my friends into their lives in a way that is open and kind and wonderful. (And it was always great having cool parents…)
5. My parents buy the most random presents. Like, really random. Sometimes they are amazing (like my iPad and my guitar), sometimes they are hilarious (like the giant Gruffalo toy by Mum sent to the office), and sometimes they are just really, really weird (the milk top shaped like a cow head, the spatula shaped like a guitar, a variety of battery-opperated-animal-toys-that-oink-and-squeek…), but they are always completely heartfelt and sure to bring much laughter.
6. My Dad can fix anything. Ever. Full stop. Cars, washing machines, fences, broken hearts… the list in endless. He is the great DIY master. And because of that he reminds me of my Heavenly Father, who never sees anything in me as broken beyond repair, but always makes a way for me to be restored in wholeness.
7. My Mum laughs at anything. And everything. There is no depth of sadness able to stand against her contagious-and-catchable joy. Her laugh is loud, and distinctive, and particularly un-subtle, but yet it reminds me of how we were really created to live life.
8. My parents have one of the most genuinely happy marriages that I have ever seen. And this stands so strong for me in being an example of Godly living, and giving me a hope for a future that isn’t based on my own negative experiences, but on the Truth that I see them living by each day.
9. My Mum and Dad have always been proud of me, and believed that I could keep going, and achieve the dreams that God had placed in my heart. When I thought I was going to fail GCSE Maths? Dad tutored me through long division. When I got so stressed on before an A Level Law exam that I was in tears? Mum reassured me that I knew the stuff I had been working so hard to cram into my brain. When I freaked out about speaking at a conference in front of loads of people? They were there, cheering me on. Through my degree, through every job interview, every move, through my times of tears, through the most difficult season of my life, my parents always had faith in God, and through that, faith in me. And they were always proud, and always there.
10. Mum and Dad have always sought God’s will for my life over their own desires. I’m sure it’s never a parents’ wish for their only, beloved daughter to move away. And definately not to then talk about moving half way around the world. But my parents have never complained, never asked me to stay local, and never done anything but encourage me to run in the path that God has for me. They have invested their own time, and money and efforts into supporting me, and praying for me, and networking me, and they continue to do so. I say I’m going to Japan, my Dad starts to learn how to eat rice. Simple as.
And I know God will honour that sacrifice in eternity. But when I sometimes think about the relationship I have with them now, I can’t help but think He already has.
So, Mum and Dad, thank you. For everything.
And Abba. Thank You. For them.