Well here is the next piece in the puzzle of my project Right relations. Sometime I wonder if anything I am writing makes any sense or if I am just rambling. So I hope that those of you who are taking time to read along as I continue on this journey are finding things that are helpful to you. Please feel free to make any comments or suggestions as you feel inspired to do. This is a work in progress.
Family Relations/The Parent Child Relationship
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (NLT)
Leviticus 19:3 “Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (NIV)
These are only 3 verses on how children must act towards their parents, yet they show the importance of the relationship between a child and their parent. Now do we stop obeying this commandment when we become adults? The answer is no. What if you parents are not good to you as you are growing up and even when you become an adult, does this mean you do not have to keep this commandment? If you read what God has instructed us to do, you will see there is nothing said about the parent’s behavior. It simply tells us to honor our mother and our father and by doing this you add to your life. Why does God care about your relationship with your earthly parents? It is not like you were given a choice who your mother and father would be. Yet these two people made a choice and you were conceived.
I do not know what your childhood was like. Some have loving and caring parents. Then there are those of you who did not have bad parents, they made sure you had what you needed as far as food, clothes, shelter, and other things. Yet they were gone a lot, they worked long hours to provide for your needs, but had little to no time for you. Then there are those of us who grew up in unstable and abusive homes. Maybe you were not the one getting abused, but you watched one parent hurt the other repeatedly. Your house was filled with anger, hate and fear. Some knew about the affairs their mother or father was having and this made you angry but there was nothing you could do. Then there are the ones who were raised by a single parent, which used to mean you were raised by your mother, but in today’s times you could have been raised by your father. For whatever reason they were left to raise you alone, and how much they showed you they loved you, there was still something missing.
I know I have not covered the entire list of dysfunctional childhoods, but you can see by this list that there are many reasons to question this commandment. How do you honor a parent that is neglectful, abusive, absent, selfish, and cheats to name a few character flaws some parents have?
How can you respect or honor someone you are afraid of? You may love them because they are your parent and you are desperate for them to love you back. Yet they have hurt you in ways that leave your angry or depressed and feeling worthless. You may do everything right, and never speak an angry word or ever talk back. Yet you cannot trust them. You live in fear of how they are going to hurt you, your siblings, or your other parent. Where is the honor in this?
You have been raised by your single parent. Some are so loving and do twice as much to make up for the lack of the other parent not being there that you do not doubt you are loved and that they will do anything to make you happy. You have no problem loving or respecting this parent, but what about the absent parent? The one who left you behind,. Whether it was before or after you was born. How do you respect or honor them? They haven’t been any part of your life, or they just show up on rare occasions, and you don’t have a relationship with them other than a biological one. So why do we even care about this person?
Unfortunately the actions of our parents are not controlled by us or by God. They have free will to choose how they live their lives. This does not always have a positive effect on our lives. We grew up watching how our parents treated each other and then how they treated us. If it was good it had a good effect on most of us behaved ourselves. Yet there are some that no matter how good their parents were they still acted out, hurting themselves and those around them. Why I cannot tell you. Then those who grew up in the unstable and dysfunctional homes it had an effect on the person we were. Some grew up to be exactly like our parents. We became victims to others just like our parents, or we lived angry, abusive, neglectful, selfish, with no self control. Either jumping from relationship to relationship or ending up in an abusive relationship of our own. Then others who grew up in these types of homes worked harder to get away from this life and made a good life for themselves.
So whether your home was good, loving and stable or it was broken and unstable it did affect the choices you made, and the relationships you formed. For some the effect was positive and we made the best choices and learned to live happy and productive lives, but still have difficulties trusting people, and honoring your parent may seem like it is not worth the effort.
So why is this command repeated throughout the Bible? Right now it I see it as a reflection of how we are to relate to God. He is called our Heavenly Father. Yet how we relate to our earthly parents effects how we relate to Him. Even the people who have the loving and nurturing parents can still have difficulty relating to Him. Not because they had a hard life, they had wonderful childhoods, so good they cannot see beyond their parents. Yet for a large number of us who grew up abused, abandoned, neglected, etc… we have difficulties seeing a loving Heavenly Father when we got stuck with jerks for parents. You may wonder how He could love you and stick you with parents who were going to hurt you? I cannot answer for Him but I will say He did not take away their free will, and He is not responsible for their actions. They chose how they lived and how they treated others. The other thing I want to tell you is that, no matter what you lived through, both good and bad He was always there and He still is. Which reminds me of a song that even thinking about still brings tears to my eyes? “A Sad Little Girl” Look it up and listen to it, if you have never listened to it before. It will tell you about how in the darkest time of this little girl’s life Jesus was there for her.
So how can we honor and respect our Heavenly Father when we do not honor or respect our parents here on earth? We can’t. Honoring and respecting anyone does not mean we have to be there door mat or punching bag. We do not have to allow ourselves to be abused in anyway. Like the old saying goes, ‘Two wrongs do not make a right.’ Just because they have done you wrong does not mean you have to return wrong for wrong. Some ways we can honor or respect the parents who failed at being good parents is by not speaking in hateful or hurtful words about them or to them. This does not mean you have to pretend like they never did anything to hurt you, and you can share what has been done to you because this is your testimony. Just speak the truth without hate or bitterness. For those of you who think this is impossible remember this verse.’ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I also want to let you know that I have not perfected this in my own life but I am putting in the effort, and doing as the Apostle Paul said, ‘ I have not yet finished the race but I press forward until I reach the goal.’
For me to have a good relationship with my Heavenly Father I am going to have to work on the relationships with the parents I have here. This includes the relationship with my mother who is no longer alive. Just because she is gone the relationship we had still plays a major role in my relationship with Christ.
Questions to think about;
What does honor and respect mean to you?
Do you have problems trusting people, and does this go back to your childhood?
How do you see yourself?
Are you depressed, angry, or are you happy and and at peace with yourself?
Have your need to forgive your parents?
Have you forgiven yourself?