I hope you’re all singing along with Miley/Hannah and me now… Good.
“Life’s a climb, but the view is great.” – The Hannah Montana Movie
Okay, okay, Hannah sentimentality over. Let’s continue.
I have the best family in the entire world. We’re not perfect, but we’re a pretty special bunch (mostly Ellian…). I’m really lucky to have grown up with parents who raised me the way they did. The example of love and family and Jesus and the church that I received growing up is second to none.
As we’ve gotten older, people have started to ask our family how we “turned out the way we did.” Just recently my parents were at a party and were put on the spot when asked how they raised such amazing girls. My mom came home from the party (and of course put me on the spot) and asked what I thought/how I would answer that question.
I couldn’t give her any good answers right then, but as I’ve thought about it more since then I’ve been able to come up with some answers that I thought I’d share with you all now.
Q: “How did you turn out the way you did?”
A: My parents. There is so much that goes into this answer, but I’ll start by highlighting a couple of things.
- The way my parents love each other. Our society is so twisted and the example of love that we have to look up to these days isn’t always the best. My parents decided early on that the word divorce would not be used in our house, even as a joke. The way that my dad defends my mom is incredible. To this day, if my sisters or I say something rude or make a comment that is disrespectful towards my mom, we will hear about it from our dad. Also, the way my mom honors my dad is so cool to watch. The way they talk to each other and about each other is the best. Having this example of love and respect is a huge part of why I turned out the way I did.
- My parents are my parents first, not my friends. This is one of my very favorite things that I could brag about forever. Too often, parents try to be friends with their kids to be seen as “cool” or whatever. Let me be the first to say, that, as much as I didn’t think so when I was younger, I need my parents to be parents. I needed to be disciplined. I needed to be taught. I didn’t need a buddy. I had those from school and church. I LOVE that my parents didn’t let things slide in order to be seen a certain way. As I’ve gotten older, my relationship with them has changed slowly. I have conversations with them now that I never would have had with them as a child, but I’m so glad. Being friends with my parents is the greatest thing, and I’m thankful that we didn’t cross this line when I was younger.
A: I placed a strong emphasis on church and building God’s house. I was basically born into the church. When I was little, church was not an option. Thank goodness. I love that all of my favorite memories revolve around sanctuaries, Sunday school classes, Missionettes, Christmas services/events, and our annual Easter Musical. Because my parents were planted in a life-giving church, church was always fun. I had the best examples of how to do “church life” well. I asked Jesus into my heart at age 7 with my mom in the back of our mini van. When I was 12, I remember having a real moment with God where I made the decision to grab a hold of my relationship with Him for myself. That’s when church became something I really wanted to do, not just some place I went because my parents always had. There have been moments since then where things got hard and I’ve had to navigate different situations within church, but (because of my foundation) church never became optional.
A: I was really picky with choosing friends. I firmly believe that I’m allowed to be as selective with choosing friends as I want. Like they say, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean I never hang out with anyone because I’m too good. There’s a difference between close friends, friends, and acquaintances. It’s good to hang out with different people and broaden your circle, but that inner circle of close friends is what I’m getting at. The people you allow to speak into you, refresh you, and challenge you should be chosen carefully. There were (and still are) seasons growing up when I felt like I didn’t have anyone close. But I would much rather have just a handful of kindred friends (or even none at all) than be surrounded by the wrong people. I would not be who I am today without the support of some of the best friends along the way.
I’m sure there are a million other reasons that I’ll think of as soon as this posted, but these are the big ones. Also, this isn’t to say that I’ve “made it,” that I haven’t made a million mistakes, or that life hasn’t been hard at points along the way. But, I love that my testimony isn’t ridden with guilt and shame. I’m so honored that I can be an example in some small way, or that people would be intrigued enough to ask this kind of question. I think it speaks volumes of my parents, my family, and my God. I’ve got a lot more to learn – and lucky for you, you’ll learn it right along with me as I blog all about it. I hope you’re in for the ride!