I love my parents. I think they’re cool. Apparently, so do my friends. 10 years ago, we were all in Zurich, Switzerland. My Swiss friend, my sister, and I were trailing along the sidewalk while my Mom and Dad walked on ahead. My friend watched them for a minute, then piped up. “Your parents are cool”, she said. I had never really thought of it quite like that, but now that she mentioned it, OK, I guess I could agree. More recently, another friend and I were stuffing our faces with pancakes at the kitchen table after he had crashed at our house one night. I was explaining that I had never resented living at home, especially since I was so often far away on one adventure or another. “Well yea, man,” he answered between bites. “Your parents are mad chill. If I had a family like yours, I’d want to live at home too!” There’s yet another one, who, while living in New York City, decided to make our house her regular rural retreat. I’ve concluded that she enjoys hanging out with parents just as much as she likes spending time with me. Maybe more.
This all got me thinking, what it is then, that makes my parents, and our home, so attractive to my friends. Our house often seems busy, stressed, and chaotic. But after listening to my friend spill her soap opera-like sob stories of one failed attempt at a relationship after another, I realized the harmony and stability that she sees in my parents stands in stark contrast to New York’s predatory free-for-all of a singles scene. After spending time in the respective homes of my other friend’s separated parents, I can see where he would appreciate the warmth, love, and encouragement present in my house that was markedly lacking in his. I’ve also realized that when I come home from some far away place, I take it for granted that I’ll be returning to two faithful parents who love the Lord and, love each other, and love their kids. I can expect my house to be place of peace and rest. Almost none of my friends as well as many of the backpackers I encounter on my travels will have that luxury.
My parents aren’t just cool to my friends that know them, they’re even cool to the ones they have never met. I’m often surprised at how quickly a girl that I barely know will ask if my parents are still together. Theirs almost never are. It’s not just the “nice girls” that ask. It’s just about everybody, from college students in the U.S. to school teachers in Brazil; from Swedish social workers to the strip-club dancers I came across at the motels on the road. And when they find out I have happily married parents, my market value as a single guy almost always goes up. So thanks, Mom n Dad.
Let’s cut the fuzziness for a minute though, and be real. Is my house always peaceful and restful, warm, loving and encouraging? Of course not, at least not on the surface. Nobody is perfect. We get tired and grumpy and sometimes get short with each other. What we do have, though, along with other Christian homes, is a foundation, built on the Gospel, Biblical authority, and Christ’s love for us, on which we can build everything else. As Christians, we may not necessarily notice the difference this foundation makes, but I believe the rest of the world does.
There is a whole lot of blah blah blah going around about how young people are rejecting traditional marriage and rejecting the Church and rejecting this and that or whatever. As if the mentality of every new generation to come of age were something new under the sun. Are most of my friends confused? Resentful? Many times, yes. Hostile to the Gospel? Maybe, sometimes. It is ironic though, that although they may not be interested in a Biblical foundation, they are attracted to the very fruit it produces. Can my friends see the difference in a Christ-centered home? Yes, they can. In our current culture, I would even argue that Christian couples are a witness to the Gospel simply by staying married.
As of this summer, my parents have been married 40 years. By doing so, they’ve been a testimony to people they don’t even know. So here’s to my parents, and to all the other Christian couples that are proving the world wrong and displaying Christ’s transforming power, 2 imperfect people but 1 faithful marriage at a time. The world really is watching. My unsaved friends are watching. And they like what they see.
by Ian Bridgman