Family Talk: 'They were all out of step but Jim'
In recent columns I've been writing a lot about my dad, who was very influential in my life. But my mom was a potent force in my life, as well. So, in the interest of gender equity, here's a tribute to mom.
To hear my mom tell it, you'd think I was a perfect child. Sometimes, when my children got together with my parents, the kids would quiz mom about mistakes I made when I was their age. "Tell us about some of the bad stuff dad did when he was a kid," they'd ask. Mom would tilt her head just a little, smile a coy smile and say, "He really never did anything wrong. He was always a good boy."
Now, my mom was not one to lie. It's just that she chose to remember the good things about me. She always did. I could be the only boy in the fourth grade who did something wrong, and, more often than not, she'd believe I was the one who did it right. In fact, one of her favorite sayings was, "They were all out of step but Jim."
That phrase was said in jest, but there was sincerity to it, too. The oft repeated phrase, "They were all out of step but Jim" came to mean my mom believed in me. She would stick up for me. She had confidence in me. Don't get the idea my mom was a pushover or that she never disciplined me. She did. But even when she had to administer discipline, I knew she loved me and believed in me just the same. To believe wholeheartedly in a boy (or a girl) is a wonderful gift indeed.
In I Corinthians 13, often referred to as the Love Chapter, the Apostle Paul writes about the many positive attributes of love. After listing those attributes, Paul concludes, "When you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him."
That described my mom. She was always loyal to me — even when she got a report of my occasional bad behavior. She didn't excuse the conduct, and she would administer the necessary discipline. But she was always loyal to me, always believed in me, always expected the best of me. Especially when she would say, "They were all out of step but Jim."
I Corinthians 13 is a goal you can set for yourself and your family, too. You can believe in your spouse. You can affirm your kids. You can express your support and loyalty to them, expect the best of them and always stand your ground in defending them. They may not always be right, and you may have to deal with the wrong behavior, but love can always be supportive and affirming. It's not the kind of conduct we see very often in the world. But then again, the world is all out of step.
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at email@example.com