Yesterday was my Momma and Daddy’s 40th Wedding Anniversary. Coupled with the excitement of this monumental moment in their lives was the excitement over the fact that they are here with us in Florida for the next week and we would be able to celebrate with them.
My aunts and I planned a little surprise for them: a cake, few small decorations and gifts. It didn’t seem like that much. As a matter of fact, I fretted feeling that perhaps I was not doing enough with the little cake we had done and the Dollar Tree plates and silverware I had purchased.
As it approached time for me to pick up the cake for the family, I remembered thinking how much I wanted to give my parents for all of the love and support they have showered me with my entire life. Even when most parents would have walked away and said “We’re done!”, my parents stayed the course, loved me endlessly, prayed for me daily and got to see the Lord radically change my heart and mind. For that, I can never express my gratitude.
They have been my example of what marriage should look like. Never easy but wonderful. Never giving up and walking away but sticking it out through the fights and determining to make it better. It’s what I pray I can have with my sweet husband for all eternity and a legacy that I hope to pass onto my own children and someday…big gulps…grandchildren.
It wasn’t until I went to pick up the cake that the Lord slowly brought into perspective so much more than needing to shower my parents with things that will wither and fade.
As I made my way through the check out line at Publix, the young man bagging up the other items I needed, looked down and inquired, “Whose been married 40 years?” I instantly beamed with joy and said, “It’s my parents cake. Today is their 40th wedding anniversary.”
I expected an “Oh.” or “That’s nice.” Instead, I was left speechless with, “Wow, you’re really lucky ma’am. That’s rare. I wish I could have been in a family like that. My parents divorced when I was little and it’s been he** my entire life since.”
I didn’t even know what to say. Or what to do. I just looked at his sweet little face, suddenly realizing how very young he was. Taking in the look of grief that can only be understood when you have known it. And I have. But I have known it from the opposite side. I was at one time one of the ones who walked away and left a legacy of brokenness. I suddenly realized, that young man could be my daughters and my heart just ached.
I wanted to hug him but I couldn’t. I wanted to say the perfect things but I didn’t know what those were so instead I said, “I am so sorry. I too have put my children through divorce. It was really hard. I feel saddened for what my children may have felt because of my choices in the past and I imagine your parents may feel the same way but just do not yet know how to express that. Luckily, I serve a God who gives second chances and I am happily married and He is healing our families one by one. I will pray He does the same for you.”
There was a special moments shared in the check out line. A moment when two people began to be reminded that all things can be changed for God’s glory. All things can be redeemed and all things can be forgiven.
As I left, I realized finally that the best gift of all would be to make sure my parents knew how much I appreciate the legacy they have begun for us. The best gift I can give my parents is to give my marriage and family to God every day just as they have tried to do my whole life. The best gift I can give my parents is reminding them that their 40th wedding anniversary is an extraordinary example of perseverance, unconditional love, compassion and timeless memories.
And so, I did my best to do just that and I will continue to do so the rest of my days.
What legacies are we creating for our children? What do our marriages, our lives speak to them and how will they someday speak of them to others? These are hard questions to ask but they are so incredibly necessary and it is never too late to ask God to help you change the answers if they are too hard to bear. God can change all things…nothing is too great for Him.
I pray that if you are child of divorce or one who has chosen that path in your own life that tonight you will find forgiveness and peace if you have done so already. I pray that tonight, you embrace God’s grace and mercy and are redeemed.
In Christ’s Love,