My parents have been married for more than 50 years. Their marriage is a testimony to the real joys and challenges of spending a lifetime together. Their bond is perhaps most beautifully illustrated in the following story:

It was about three years ago and my parents were in Florida expecting company for the weekend, so I offered to help my mom out for a few days. (Florida sounded really good given that it was February and I live in Minnesota.) With the support of my husband, I headed to Florida for what became a frightening week. My dad was hospitalized for complications related to his lung disease. By the grace of God, he recovered, but I am forever thankful for the privilege of being with my parents during that time.

Over the course of several days, I watched my parents interact with each other. It was clear that their love for each other was the best medicine for Dad. Mom was aware of his deteriorating condition in some cases before the doctors. When he went from sleeping to unconscious, Mom was aware of the subtle change before we were. When she would stroke his forehead, he would relax. When they were away from each other, they were not themselves. They may not be physically one, but they certainly are one spiritually.

This is love. It is a love that is faithful and constant through good, bad and frightening. It is a love that brings healing and peace. It is an aged love that has lived through proud moments and disappointment, happiness and deep sorrow. And through it all, they love. I would say it is even a sanctuary for my parents; it is the most dependable, reliable and devoted relationship I know.

I believe my parents emulate the love God has for us. Just like that divine love, it has an impact on others. It encompasses my seven siblings and our families, and has become a road map for the way to walk through life. I take for granted the loyalty and dependability that is a characteristic of my family. We learned that value from my parents. Often in my growing-up years, and especially when there was tension between us, Dad would simply say, “Love one another.” A seemingly simple command, but difficult to live out when my sister had ruined my favorite sweater, or my brother had frightened me with a fake spider down my back. Love one another; maybe that is good medicine for us all.

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mt 22:37-40).