My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is Your Parents.
This topic should be easy. I have awesome parents. We’ve not always agreed on everything. Sometimes they were right, sometimes they were wrong, sometimes we compromised or agreed to disagree. But in general I’ve had an extremely positive experience with my parents. I was blessed to be raised by good, Christian people who loved me, taught me, sacrificed for me, and cared how I turned out. I’m blessed to have parents who stayed together, who are still together today, and who are involved in my and my children’s lives.
I learned so much from them, both as individuals and collectively as a unit. I have personality traits from both of my parents, but in general I’m more like my dad. We see things very cut and dry, black and white. I get my love of organization and order and schedules from him, although he is more perfected at it than I. Dad’s admonishments were to put something back where you got it, turn off the lights when you leave a room, fill up your car when the gas gauge is at a quarter tank. He cheerfully greets me and many others with “I’m on my way to heaven, I just stopped here to _______” fill in the blank with whatever he’s doing — preaching, eating, visiting, etc. If you tell him to have a good day he says, “Every day is a good day if you love Jesus” or “Every day is a good day if you have Jesus in your heart.” My dad is tough; he works hard and loves the outdoors. He’s dedicated and devoted, sometimes to a fault, and he means what he says. He’s trustworthy. I call him for help with my car, my home, my spiritual walk, my children, and he’s always there with advice and the offer to help in any way he can.
From my mom I got a tender heart, hers more tender than mine because I have to reconcile that with all the black-and-white I got from my dad. She and I hurt when other people hurt. We sympathize and empathize (when we can) and shed tears over problems that are not our own because it hurts us so to witness someone else’s pain. We sometimes joke on mom for the time she bought expensive light bulbs from some charity because the person calling had such a touching story. But whenever she tells the story it brings tears to her eyes and ours too. My mom is so patient; I wish I’d gotten a little more of that from her. She can be strong when she needs to be, standing up for herself and doing what she believes to be right even in the face of difficulty or resistance. She will do the right thing no matter how difficult or painful it is to her personally. What marvelous strength she exhibits in the face of undesirable circumstances.
On the nature v. nurture argument I straddle the fence because I think both factors can influence us all to different degrees. Some of us are influenced more by one or the other, and for some the right (or wrong) combination can make huge differences in our lives. My parents provided a positive, nurturing environment, and in that environment is where I made my choices. It was work for them to provide that environment and it was work for me to respond appropriately in it. It was both nature and nurture that produced who I am.