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The wisdom of parental counsel (cont.)
My mother expressed her mutual interest in my father. That was quite a change for her. She had literally turned down several men who had professed their undying love for her and asked for her hand in marriage. Always the life of the party, my mother's humor attracted many a suitor. Perhaps that's why I instinctively wanted a woman who could make me laugh. The fruit, as they say, doesn't fall far from the tree.
Needless to say, my mother discovered that she either didn't (a) have enough in common with them to sustain a relationship or (b) they had the morals of a gnat.
After hearing more of their story, and moving into the living room, I asked for their counsel. "How do I know to whom I should get married?"
My mom, sitting on the edge of the gold upholstered antique chair to my right, smiled and started by saying, "Obviously, she should be a Christian. Second, you should be attracted to one another. Third, she should be your biggest cheerleader."
Dad interrupted. "That's right. Adam, there'll be days when you're all alone, when you feel as though people have either abandoned you or just grown complacent. Your wife needs to be your biggest supporter, offering you encouragement when you need it the most."
That meant a lot to me in light of their history.
Dad had a secure job as a reporter before he struck out on his own, developing a unique strategy to educate voters on public policy questions, empowering them to become more engaged in the political decisions that impacted their lives. Big idea with no guaranteed regular income.
There were weeks at a stretch where my two younger brothers John and Tim and I ate "monster" pancakes for dinner. They got that name due to their size since we needed two spatulas to flip them in the iron skillet. But we were totally clueless about my parents' creative way to stretch the McManus food dollar.
All the while, my mother supported my father's dreams 100%. She didn't nag. She didn't complain. She didn't try to hold him back.
As I listened to the wise counsel of my parents, I thought how well they had described Amy - especially her irrepressible gift of coming alongside me and cheering me on.
No matter how challenging the task might be - in my personal or professional life - she has been the one person who has demonstrated that she believes in me. With Amy by my side, along with my faith in Christ, I feel as though I can conquer the world.
To be honest, I had never really experienced that before in my other relationships to the depth I have with her.
Mom continued. "That cheerleading is based on profound respect for you and your character."
Well, that was certainly a biblical concept. Ephesians 5:33 is the verse where the man is challenged to "love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
This love that I am to have for my bride is sacrificial at its core. Earlier in that same chapter, in verse 25, Paul challenges men from his Roman prison cell: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy."
Now that's a tall order to have that kind of love for anyone - a spouse or whomever. We have nothing short of a literally perfect example in Jesus. But it's a great goal indeed. And, no doubt, the key to successful marriages.
I'm reminded of some great marital advice I received from Baron Wiley, one of my radio colleagues recently: "Adam, throughout your entire marriage, strive to out-serve one another."
It was during this invaluable Cliff Note's parental summary of what I needed in a wife there in the living room filled with Christmas tree fragrance and gifts, that, in my mind's eye, I could see the three of us talking. Nothing weird or mystical. No Shirley McLain out-of-body New Age experience or anything. But I think I was so unmistakably aware of the true gravity of the situation, that every moment was being burned into some kind of non-erasable DVD of the brain.
"Adam, you should also pick a woman with whom you have a natural compulsion to share every detail of your life, no matter how small. If there's a woman out there with whom you have the urge to talk over the good, the bad and the ugly, that's a very good sign indeed."
The more I heard, the more I became convinced that Amy was "the one."
I took a sip of my soda and Mom concluded. "Inevitably, between any two people, there will be all kinds of differences. Personality differences, family differences and experiential differences. Those are the very differences that God will use to refine each one of you to become the very person God created you to be initially."
Wow! That's deeply profound. Marriage, Christian marriage, is part of God's eternal plan from the very beginning of time itself to mold us, to sanctify us.
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