Janet and I go back a very long way together. In fact, we met when we were five or six as our parents attended the same church – even the same Open Hearth Class which was the adult Bible study group. I think my Dad would say it was more of a contemporary issues discussion each week, but nonetheless it provided the setting for Janet and me to meet as our folks became best friends.
We both attended the same elementary school – Sutherland – but we attended different high schools. I was at Morgan Park – the public school – while Janet attended Morgan Park Academy – the private school up the hill where the more affluent kids went.
I used to cut the grass for Janet’s Dad each week; for $1. I remember when I got a raise to $1.25 a week. I thought it was really terrific – and it was! We lived less than a mile apart and Dad would help load the lawnmower in the car and talk to Janet’s folks while I worked outside. In fact, I remember the first time that Janet walked down the back stairs and offered me an iced tea.
The families got along great but I never thought that Janet and I ever would have a chance to date, let alone get married, have a family and now realize that we are in our 51st year of marriage. And we both still love each other more than we ever have.
Now, in all honesty, I was a more radical child than Janet was. I tested my parents more than Janet did. My father would tell me to stop “fighting city hall” and I eventually got the message. On the other had, Janet was somehow like a virtually perfect child. Even later in life, her Dad would tell me how she was compliant, never created a problem; and was a joy to have as a daughter. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was a middle child – I was an oldest child.
Anyway, our parents imposed a midnight curfew when we started dating and neither Janet nor I dared to challenge that. My mother was fond of saying that everything could be said by midnight – and anyone who stayed out after midnight was repeating themselves! She was probably right.
Frankly, our curfew was never extended – even until we got married. Mom told us that after we were married we could make up our own rules and stay out as late as we wanted. It is so different from what kids do today. But as I said, Janet was a model child and even if I would have pushed the boundaries, she would never have been a part of that. And I would have been afraid of losing her!
Although we have told our kids and grandchildren our childhood stories, I think they believe that we were out of our minds. But that’s the way we chose to live our lives – obedient to our parents and respecting their wishes. To this day, we tend to head back to bed at 11:00 p.m. and find ourselves falling asleep waiting for the ball to drop in New York City on New Year’s Eve. We probably aren’t all that exciting – and maybe never have been. But that’s who we are – period….
In a way, even 50 years later, it seems a little odd when the clock strikes midnight and we are still watching a movie or engaged in a great conversation. Invariably, Janet will get ready to head back to bed when I stop her and remind her that many years ago, “Mom said we could…” We both have a fond memory of our folks telling us that once we were married, we could do what we wanted… I guess that those memories have stayed with us throughout the decades.
In the business world, it’s called “real time permission.” That’s when you encourage someone who is usually quiet to speak into the conversation. So I guess Janet and I still need a little “real time permission” to stay up late, even now that we are in our 70’s. We do laugh about it now and then…
The point of tonight’s post is that while the world moves on, the values that Janet and I were raised with, including obedience, have not changed. Sometimes, I think we are dinosaurs but I am confident that we will model our behavior for our family as long as we live.
The verse for tonight is from the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus told His audience to keep the commandments. He was asked which ones should be kept. He replied in Matthew 19:19, “honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’’”
My encouragement this evening is that while it may not be popular today, it really is God’s will that we should honor the wishes of our parents. My prayer is that we will model wonderful behaviors for our younger generations and help restore love and dignity in this broken world, including the command to love one another. In the meantime, watch a late movie! Mom said we could! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…