“…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24: 15
My brother and I, probably like brothers and sisters everywhere, have a ton of inside jokes laced with the sayings of our parents. There are situations that we encounter now as adults where one of those sayings, fitted with perfection, slip effortlessly from our lips, like we ourselves were the originators. There are moments when talking with friends going through some turmoil that a well-place word from mom or dad, 30 years after we first heard it, provide old truth to new ears. And every now and then, on some rare occasion, we are even able to repeat a phrase with smug pride to one of our parents to make a point, to give one of them advice, using their own words. When that happens, it’s epic, and I think (or at least I hope) mutually amusing to both child and parent.
I think about my own childhood a lot when I am faced with parenting dilemmas. Oftentimes, instinct kicks in, but as our kids age, my husband and I find ourselves more and more needing to mull some stuff over, pray together, and debate quietly with our television on a higher volume until we come to consensus about the next step forward. And in those moments, we reference back to what our parents would have said or done. We laugh for a bit in the nostalgia of our youth, telling the stories we’ve both heard at least 20 times before, and emerge a unified front against whatever drama has infiltrated our home. And I think that’s the point. We take our marriage very seriously. Sure, we joke and argue and love and ignore and make up and play like every other couple, but when it comes to the war of outside influence, we are partners.
Our kids have so many more images and messages they are required to filter as they approach their teenaged years. There is so much more for them to get into in the quiet of their own bedrooms than we ever had at those same ages. And even if we are successful at keeping certain things at bay in the moments we’re together, when they are at school or with friends, their worlds are opened up to so much more foolishness. We do our best, like our parents before us, but truthfully, part of being an adult is realizing the fallibility of our own humanity. So we have to plant our feet firmly on something to provide the foundation with which our kids can return should they mess up, the anchor to which they cling when they are in situations that stir feelings of fear or anxiety or discomfort.
And like our parents before us, who made us to go church with neighbors or family when they had to work, who put us in Catholic school during our formative years, who quoted scripture to scare us into obedience–you know, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long” (emphasis attributed to my dad)–, who send us sermons they’ve found on YouTube to help us through a storm, being a house that serves the Lord is the greatest gift and protection we can offer. And the reason why those sayings resonate so deeply and guide instinctually today is because they were delivered with the love and resoluteness of ones who truly love the Lord and expect for their children to do so as well.