“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”-Psalm 127:3*
In keeping with the “love” theme this month, I am exploring the storge love. Storge is the Greek word which relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child. This type of love is not mentioned directly in the Bible, but in the new testament the negative form of this word, astorgos, is used twice. **
I grew up in a typical middle-class family in the sixties and seventies. My dad was an engineer with a major oil and gas company and mom was a homemaker. Growing up we spent more time with mom as she volunteered at our school, took us to dance, made our costumes, and toted us around while running errands and shopping. When it came to discipline, I remember mom yelling at us or sending us to our room, and I don’t remember the “wait till your father gets home” line ever being used. There was a kind of awed respect or healthy fear in me which knew never to push the envelope too far with mom because she might get dad involved.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I was not beaten or verbally abused as a child. There was this mysterious aspect to my dad and perhaps it was because he was away more than at home with us. Perhaps it was his deep voice and when he spoke louder it rumbled through the room. Or perhaps it was because he was larger than life and could fix any problem. For all of these reasons is why I was certain not to have mom engage dad in any discipline issues.
My father was not overly affectionate with me as I was growing up, but every once in a while, he would hug me or tell me he was proud of something I did. As we both grew older, dad was more loving in his actions and words which encouraged me to reciprocate.
I would seek his approval for the rest of our lives. Disappointing dad was far worse than any other form of punishment and there were a few times I accomplished this task.
I decided to get married at age nineteen before finishing college. Dad said he would no longer pay for my college if we were going to make such a grown-up decision. Education was everything to my dad and he thought once I stopped going full time, I would never go back. I had to prove to him I would get my degree.
And I did. It took me eight years but I did it. I invited my parents to my graduation where I would walk across the stage. They both were so proud of me and I could see tears in my dad’s eyes. I knew the disappointment had been erased from his memory.
When Scott died in 2001, my parents were the first ones to come be with me. We were all in shock and I asked them to assist me with the funeral arrangements. I decided to buy dual plots for both Scott and me and my dad was almost panicked by my choice. “You are so young and you don’t know what the future holds for you, I think buying your burial plot next to Scott’s is not necessary,” he said. I don’t think he was disappointed as much as profoundly saddened on me making such a final decision.
I was reminded this weekend by my mom of how disappointed she and dad were in Randy and me for not inviting family to our wedding in 2005. For personal reasons, we decided to keep it an extremely low key and not invite our family members. We thought we were doing a favor for everyone and sparing them the cost of travel and lodging. Instead, our family felt left out and was disheartened by our decision. My dad never mentioned this to me.
Through the years my dad became more affectionate and would hug me, tell me he loved me, and sometimes get weepy when our visits came to an end. It became extremely important to him for the family to get together, take pictures, and make memories. As we gathered around him in his final hours, he could not verbalize his feelings, but we could feel his love and knew he was proud of all of our achievements and decisions.
This is storge love.
Where parents love their children, regardless of their faults and the disappointments they will bring about. In my family, there were accolades, achievements, disappointments, and failures. But at the end of my dad’s life, we knew he had forgotten the negative occurrences and was pleased with our family and how we rally around, lift up, respect and love one another. I pray this will be my dad’s legacy for the future generations of our family.
* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society