Since you and Jim didn't come from good examples, how did you figure it out?
When people meet me, and hear about my wonderful family, they most often assume that Jim and I came from big, happy, Christian families. Nothing could be further from the truth. Neither Jim nor I were raised in happy or healthy homes. Jim's parents divorced when he was two. While my parents didn't divorce until I was fourteen, they have both assured me that their marriage was NEVER happy. Both of our mothers went on to further marriages and divorces. So, neither of us had any type of good relationship examples within our own homes.
However ... the Lord, in His great plan, gave us both wonderful examples in other beautiful Christian couples.
When I was a Senior in high school, I needed to move out of my family home. A friend of mine, and her family, invited me to live with them for the year. It was an amazing year for me. I saw, up close and personal, what a happy and healthy family looked like. I had a Dad & Mom who ...
... loved me.
... who loved each other.
... who communicated with me.
... who communicated with each other.
... who prayed with me.
... who prayed with each other.
... I had a "big brother" (age 20), who loved the Lord.
... I had my girlfriend (age 18), who I shared a room with, and did Bible Studies with.
... I had two "little sisters" (ages 2 & 5) who loved me, and who I could help care for.
God truly blessed me with this example of a healthy family and a good marriage. We are still very close to Dick & Helen, the parents (who love ALL of our children, dearly).
And Jim ... he, too, was blessed with a year in a Christian home. The year before we were married, George & Shirley invited Jim to live with them. He had the wonderful opportunity of observing their marriage, up close and personal, for a year.
Not only were Jim and I blessed with a year in these Christian homes, but we were also blessed to work for George & Shirley for the first two years of our marriage. Jim worked at George's neighborhood grocery store, while I worked for Shirley in the accounting department of a tool & die shop. So, we both had the opportunity for daily mentoring. Thank you Lord!
Now, I am fully aware that not everyone will have the opportunity to live with a Christian family for a year. But, I encourage all of you singles (and young couples) out there (who haven't had the best marriage examples growing up) to get to know some Christian families. Be bold and ..
... ask them to mentor you.
... ask if you can be involved with their families.
And ... for all of you that do have healthy Christian marriages ... invite some teens and single young adults (or young couples) to get involved in your lives ...
... Invite them to go on vacation with you.
... Invite them over for holidays.
... Invite them to join you for a Game Night.
... Invite them for dinner.
... Invite them to come live with you for a year.
Now, don't get me wrong, Jim and I are NOT involved in all of the young adults' lives that we're involved in, just because we want to minister to them. No ...
... we really enjoy them.
... they are our friends.
... they are our "adopted big kids".
... we love them as we do our own children.
... we hope to continue to be involved in their lives after they are married, and after they have kids.
We thank God for ALL of the "kids" that God has brought into our lives so that we can be examples ...
... for their lives.
... for their marriages.
... for their parenting.
And ... we thank God for giving us such wonderful examples 30 years ago, so that we could become examples for this generation of kids, teens, and young adults.
George & Shirley and Dick & Helen weren't just good examples 30 years ago ... they continue to be great examples for us today. George & Shirley have been married for 60 years, while Dick & Helen have been married for about 55 (I can't remember which year we attended their 50th party). Now ... those are good examples to follow. I pray that we can continue to be good examples for the next 25, 30, 35 ..... years.