No one is perfect. But some folks are perfect for us. That is how I feel about mom and dad.
Mom is the sweetest woman you will ever meet. She has a golden heart. She serves, and serves, and serves, and serves, and serves… She serves when she is happy, when she is tired, when she is heartbroken, when she is rested. If you have ever come to our family home, I know you have seen that first hand. Since the earliest days of my life we have welcomed family, friends and strangers into our house. Mom always greets them warmly, no matter what race or religion, how rich or poor they are. She always (and by I always I mean literally) offers a warm cup of coffee, a sweet piece of cake or a full dinner or lunch feast. She manages the house, she manages our family’s finances, she manages her kids (very special feat if you know me) and she still serves the community through volunteering at our church, teaching kids about the love of God. Mom always has a smile, an open heart to welcoming new and old folks and she is eager to listen and pray for others.
But recently I have come to admire her even more. Growing up in Brazil it was really cheap to have a maid to assist her with different chores around the house. When we moved to the US that changed. Obviously only rich folks can afford a maid in the US. Not here. She works harder now than she ever did. We welcome more folks at our home now than we ever did. She does more work ministering to others now than we ever did. And she still has the same servant heart. The same warm smile. The same open heart. She is a delight to be with. I love her.
Dad is the most incredible man I have ever met. He is an orphan and had a tough childhood, feeling like he was “the boy no one wanted”. One would think this was a recipe for disaster. Nonetheless, he is a deeply loving father and husband, and someone who has lived a true life of sacrifice for others. He is more on the shy side, so he won’t be as warm as my mom at first, but he will eventually warm up and have great conversations with anyone.
Dad is a very respected reverend. He has academic degrees in many areas and knows romantic languages, theology, sociology and psychology as the back of his hand. He ties all of these areas when he preaches. And boy, can he preach. He is extremely eloquent and can deliver sermons that will give you Goosebumps. He writes incredibly thoughtful articles and books. Nonetheless that is not the part of him that impacts me the most. The part that I see everyday, and that is the part of him that I will always remember and carry in my heart is listening to him as he cares for others. He is a not just a reverend. That is just his official title. He is a true shepherd. Every day I hear him speaking to someone, whether on the phone, on our front porch, in a hospital or at church. The conversations range in topics: “my mother just found out she has cancer” or “I am addicted to drugs and I don’t know what to do” or “my husband has left me… I haven’t worked in 10 years and I have no idea how I will work and take care of my girls”… and so many others. Some are great conversations too “we just got engaged and we would like to do some pre-marital counseling” or “we had our first baby! Can you come pray with her?” or after many years of not seeing one of his sheep “we are coming to visit!”.
Neither dad nor mom are perfect and have never claimed to be. As a matter of fact, both of them have failed with me and my siblings at different times. They have asked for our forgiveness when they have done so. That is why we have learned to ask for forgiveness and to forgive as well.
Lastly, a few things have never been blurry to me:
- Mom and dad deeply believe in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and live their lives modeling his life. Integrity of character and a life of loving service are the marks of Christ in their lives
- Mom and dad love each other – although they are a real couple, with real challenges, they have remained faithful to one another, honored one another and taken care of one another across their 30 years of marriage. I have never ever felt scared that they would divorce. This kind of love has been extremely impacting in my life, as it surrounds me daily.
- Mom and dad love others – family, friends and strangers - They live a life that is dedicated to serving, caring and loving other people. If you have a hardship, need counsel, need support, need prayer, need someone to listen, need a bed or food, they will always be there.
As you can see, I love mom and dad. I think I love them because they aren’t perfect. They are raw, real and have taught me through their lives to care about things that truly matter. And for that, I will be forever thankful. They are not perfect, but they are perfect for me :)