Shared with permission from a teeanger I worked with:

Growing up, I didn’t realize how good I had it.  I was the middle child, growing up in the suburbs.  My parents, my siblings and I went to church and attended a public school that set me up well enough to make it into a good college.  It wasn’t until I was in college and was taking part in a small group with my local chapter of Intervarsity that I started to realize how blessed I was to have the parents that I have.  Most of the girls in my small group were dealing with some really horrible stuff.  Even though many of their parents were Christians, they were tangled up in a whole host of situations that broke my heart.  Their parents were going through divorces, had anger problems, didn’t seem to love each other or had had affairs.  I believe that, in part, as a result, many of my college friends were struggling to engage in a healthy way with the opposite sex.  They hadn’t felt secure at home and they hadn’t been witness to a healthy marriage, and they were seeking security in sex and relationships and falling for guys that weren’t treating them right.  When one of my friends asked me how I could hold out for so long to have sex, and how I could be patient for the “right guy” to come along, I started thinking long and hard about how my parents had been used in some way to set me up to be pure in college, and this is what I came up with.

  1. My dad seemed to really love my mom, and my mom seemed to really love my dad.  Sure, I saw my mom and dad argue, and there were plenty of times that I could remember them annoying each other or being insensitive, but at the end of the day, I always heard them tell each other they loved one another, and they also went out of the way to show each other their love.  My dad would always clean the dishes, every night, and he regularly rubbed my mom’s feet – both things that I know she loved.  My mom would always affirm my dad, and rub his shoulders and make and plate up food – an act of service he really appreciated.  On anniversaries, Birthdays, and Valentine’s Day, my parents always did something special for each other.
  2. My parents went on date night/spent time together.  Even since I was young, I can remember my parents taking time for each other.  They invested in their marriage by having a great babysitter that all of us kids loved.  They went out to dinner whenever they could, and when they couldn’t afford it, they got up early and had breakfast together.
  3. They prayed together every morning and night.  I would often see them if I woke up early enough or when I was staying up late studying.  They prayed with us kids too, but they took special time to pray with one another, even if it was just for a few minutes.  My mom told me that when she and my dad first were married, they prayed together once a week, but when things became rocky, or they became stressed, they leaned more and more on daily prayer to help them get on the same page and put God first.  That left a big impression on me: that prayer needs to be an important part of my future marriage and dating life.
  4. They were honest with me about purity and sex.  My parents were both virgins when they were married.  They waited for each other, and that told me it was possible.  That being said, they told me time and again that it wasn’t easy—they explained it was the “narrow road”, but they affirmed several times that it was worth it.  They both shared with me about how they had struggled and wrestled with their purity.  My dad even shared with us about seeing pornography when he was young and when he was in college, and he told us about the devastating, and addictive impact it had had on several of his friends.  He told me that I should never date a guy who thinks that pornography use is “normal” and just part of a “guy being a guy” – which is a belief that more and more of the guys in my college seem to believe, and he and my mom explained why.

I am sure there are many, many more examples and priorities that my parents modeled that help me now know that I should wait for the man that God brings into my life, but these are the examples that sand out in my brain.  My parents modeled a sacrificial love for one another, and I know it wasn’t always easy.  Additionally, they prioritized fidelity and their marriage, something I aspire to do in my own life.