Saturday, July 16, 2011
~ "When I grow up I'll never do that to my children..."
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Ex 20:12)
I thought this one would be an easier one, since I am both a parent and a child. When looking back at my childhood (and for those of you who have read my book), I was not one who was consummately obedient. When found out, I would always receive a punishment that they felt was deserving. I did not necessarily agree. I personally believe that overly disciplined and extremely regimented children tend to be without limits once they reach the "real world" from having led such a sheltered life while being raised. I think that my father would disagree with that statement; however, my children would agree.
As parents, we don't always make the right decisions - but that does not preclude us from being obeyed and respected. We are human, we will make mistakes. In that same breath, our children will one day (God willing) become parents, and understand first hand why so many of the things they felt were harmless, were, in fact, denied them simply to teach self control, patience and determination. They will understand the love a parent has for their child and that they aren't being "mean", they are just preparing them for life beyond the confines of their home. Yes, there are some parents who take it to the extreme and literally abuse the right to be worthy of honor and respect, yet God tells us that we are to respect them. Confused? Don't be - because God has a plan for each child that it born into this world and although some suffer abuse, even death, their purpose here is fulfilled. I know this is hard to accept and understand. I have several friends who have witnessed the loss of a loved one due to abuse by a parent. I, too, have suffered abuses that I'd rather not mention at this time. I've also seen lives destroyed by adults who were abused as children - not breaking the cycle and moving from the abused to the abuser. Sure, I could be angry with God for allowing it to happen. I could walk away and stomp my foot and tell God - "forget it - I'm not forgiving them for that" - and it will only result in my becoming a bitter, vengeful person.
God commands us to honor and respect our parents - He puts no conditions on that. And by the same token, once raised, once we become adults watching our parents grow older and weaker, we again must remember that we are commanded to continue that honor and respect. We should be comforting them, making their aging process easier, helping them to retain some decency in their final years, helping to maintain them financially if they need that as well. It's about "honor and respect". I have a friend whom I've known for many years (too many to count, actually) and I am ever amazed at the love and compassion he has shown for both his father (who went on to his reward about year and a half ago) and his mother. His mom suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Lately she's becoming more incontinent and often she forgets which of her two son's she is visiting with - yet, with a smile and a jovial attitude, he cares for her, visits her in the facility in which she lives, researches and prays about the decisions he must make regarding her medical care and physical well being and continues to love her as she loved and cared for him so many years ago. That, to me, is what this commandment is all about.
God may not have blessed you with an abundant childhood, your parents may not have always been the role models you would have liked them to be, they may not have always been able to express their love for you in words or in deeds that we associate with love - but they are, regardless of their shortcomings, your parents. For that alone, they deserve the honor and respect God commands us to afford them. I know for many of you this is hard...but know that God has forgiven them for their sins (if they were born again) and that we, too, being born again, are told to forgive them as well. Maybe that rotten childhood you had, has caused you to be a better parent. Maybe the "sins of the father" will not be repeated in the next generation because God blessed you with the mercy and grace He dispenses only to His children. Regardless of whether or not they ever come to know the Lord, they will answer to Him. Take comfort in knowing that God's justice is greater than worldly justice - and it is eternal! And when you consider all that the Lord has thrust upon us with regard to our parents, we must then, without hesistation, look to our FATHER in Heaven, who also deserves our "honor and respect" not to mention our praises and thanksgiving for ALL He has so freely given!!!