My mother has been my example in life for more than just how to be a woman and daughter of Jesus. She has taught me many more things than just how to bake cookies or fashion a hospital corner. Every day, she’s been my example for how to interact with guys, specifically my dad. She’s been my prime example for how to respect my dad, how to love my dad, and how to treat my husband in the future.
The Bible tells us to submit to our husbands, and my mother has shown me everyday how best to bring honor to my dad through quiet submission. Whether or not she agrees with his verdict on issues ranging from what to have for dinner to financial matters, she supports him. If she has qualms or doubts about the correctness of the decision, she discusses it with him privately, not in front of anyone else, so she doesn’t deface or usurp his authority publicly. She never gossips about or slanders him to anyone because that would be disrespectful. In addition to leading by example, my mom has also taught me to respect both her and my dad by obeying without questioning, speaking well of both of them to others, and to respectfully discuss any discrepancies privately with meekness and deference. Speaking carefully is just one aspect of respect though.
When my parents went through pre-marriage counseling, they took the 5 Love Languages test first about themselves, and then for each other. They were amazed at how different their answers were, and they got a firsthand experience of the fact that people receive love in much different ways than they give it. If you decide to love someone the way you want to instead of the way they need, that’s selfish, and that person won’t feel loved. Since that time, they both strive to love each other in the best way that the other receives it, they’ve taught me to do the same. Based on what I know about my dad’s love language and personal preferences, I can better serve and love him because I have taken the time and effort to know him. When I was younger, my dad would give me his seat just because he’s a gentleman, but I would sit on his lap instead of completely taking his seat because I knew he was tired, but this would also allow him to feel gratified in allowing me to sit as well. Learning how to be gracious in giving and receiving love hasn’t just been relevant in my childhood however.
Not only have my parents taught me how to be a good daughter, they’ve also prepared me for my future role as a wife one day (hopefully!). Because I’ve already had lessons in submission, respect, and love, I’ll be better able to adapt to married life. Not only have these lessons prepared me for my distant future, they’ve also helped me to edify the guys around me by respecting them as men. I’ve had to learn how to speak in ways that are humorous but not belittling, how to act in ways that are friendly but not attention-seeking, and how to best build up their self-esteem and motivate them to act like the men they are.
It hasn’t been easy. It’s certainly not in my nature to gently submit to decisions I don’t like, and it’s taken practice to speak well of others no matter what mood I’m in. It’s been difficult for me to learn how to use words that won’t be taken the wrong way, whether disrespectfully or flirtatiously, and I’m certainly not done learning. But my parents have provided me with the firm foundation to build upon as I continue my journey through life, no matter what roles I acquire.