A Parental Thank You

December 1989: My high school senior year. Dad accepted a new pastorate 40 miles from our  home of five years. I was to be removed from my high school, the middle of senior year, to finish up at another. My sister, a junior with a long term boyfriend, was devastated. I, surprisingly, was not.

Turns out, the second day of classes, I noticed a cute boy in AP English. At first glance, I thought he was short and chubby…not true. At 6’4″ my crush, turned boyfriend, turned husband was nothing but everything I ever wanted in a man.

January 2015: Twenty-five years later, we all returned to California, all five siblings plus spouses and children, to celebrate my father’s retirement…the final Sunday at this same church and 40 years in the ministry for my dad.  Many of the congregants are original to our 1989 arrival, and watched us all, especially my brothers, grow up.

In all my questioning with today’s church, and the frustration I have regarding who is in and who isn’t, this weekend was a welcome relief. I watched a sizable group of people express heartfelt and earnest love to my parents. And I have seen my parents over the years, do this in return. I saw a body of believers, who in our human messiness, remained for the long haul. Sure, their 25 years had it’s fair share of difficulty and disappointment. But I also recognized laughter, generosity, abundance, integrity. I witnessed a church who stood by my parents, earning the right to speak into one another’s lives.

In conversation with my mom, she tearfully said the church received their best. The five of us have had to figure it out, sometimes not being the priority in a minister’s family, sometimes craving the attention of two very busy, very tapped out parents. We each have had to come to terms with this, some more easily than others. However, on Sunday, I recognized redemption. Each one of us was a minister too…maybe not actively, but certainly passively. We learned how to love well, how to give generously, how to prioritize our families, how to seek health. We were taught how to give grace to others…how to forgive…because my parents, possibly wishing it was all perfect, know it wasn’t. They know things fell to the wayside, and sometimes they fell apart. But, these relationships, family and church, are long running. This honesty is where healing begins, where forgiveness happens, and where the past can be laid to rest.

I long to give this gift to my children…to see me in my messiness. Maybe I will recognize it and seek forgiveness, or maybe they will tell me about it later. I pray that I handle it as mine have. I own it, seek to make amends, and move forward the best way we all know how.

Thank you to my parents, who have modeled humility and kindness. In this, I think maybe we kids did get the best. We got to be privy to the real pastors, and what it looks like when things fall far from ideal. I am grateful to you, Dad and Terry, for the model of integrity and humor that has carried you through many a difficult time. I am grateful to you for resting in the lack of resolution, knowing things would eventually come around. I am grateful to you for being honest about what not to do. You have provided a wonderful jumping off point for each one of us in our own life journeys. I am indebted to you for demonstrating what love truly looks like, and sometimes it is not what we expect. You have been faithful in what God has entrusted to you.

I hope the next chapter provides a new place of freedom and discovery. Plus maybe a healthy dose of Colorado goodness.