Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
- Exodus 20:12
Our mother and our father are supposed to act as God’s representatives in our young lives. They should give us good examples to follow. Thus, we must honor them. Even when they aren’t that good, God placed them as our parents. That means in not honoring our parents, we dishonor God, questioning His sovereignty or His wisdom. Some parents do a better job than others. Some children would prefer the ambivalent parents that do nothing instead of the abusive parents that they have or had.
Some parents do not love their children. Some parents show their love by simply providing their needs of food, shelter, and clothing, never showing love to them. Others shower them with gifts. Then there are those that show deep interest, showing great affection for the children.
You can determine which of these best represents you as a parent or the parents that you have or had. The key is that God is all of these except for the first. He does love us. He provides for our basic needs, but He is not limited to that. If we are living within His will and are faithful followers, God can have favor on us and grant our wishes also, showering us with many gifts. Remember the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:23) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
But the key is that God, living outside time and space, can spend an infinite time with every detail of our lives, down to the molecular level. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
When we are in our tough times of life, our times down in the valley, God still loves us. Those times are endured for us to grow. So it is with parents who provide discipline. They also allow us to fail, reaping the consequences, as a means for us to grow.
I cannot speak of anyone else’s parents, but my own. I could speak of how I perceived myself as a parent, but my sons would be better judges. They can remember everything that I ever did wrong. They struggle to think of the things I did well. I know that they have characterized my wife as “Super Mom.” She always put everyone else before herself. I know that I could never match up to her.
I now look upon my two sons. They are both fathers. They are both good fathers, but the techniques are as different as night and day. I suggested a little at first, but quickly learned that they had their own way of doing things. As a result, I have five well-behaved grandchildren, ages 19, 16, 9, 5, and just turned 3.
As for my parents, my mother met my needs and that of my older siblings. She was uncomfortable in showing emotions. She would hide and lock the door if she felt like crying. She had no problem showing anger. Nothing else. With my temperament, I had no problem showing emotions and I craved that kind of response, a response that was willingly given by both grandmothers. My mother was incapable, or unwilling, to respond. She interpreted my need for affirmation as a weakness. As a result, she employed what many call “tough love.” Of course, I interpreted this response to my affection adversely.
The private confessions that my Dad made to me from the time that I was 22 years old until his death were clouded by God in my mind, so that I would show respect and love to them without restriction or hesitation. If I had pieced things together when they were still alive, I would have still loved and respected them, but I might have said things that would be unfortunate. I am an introvert. As an introvert, I practice what I will say before I say it, but my mother hated my hesitation. She would badger me to spit out the words. In frustration, I would spit out something that wasn’t well formed in my mind. I often would say, “You don’t love me.” If I had blurted out the proof and the reasons, I would have hurt her feelings. I really think that her feelings were buried so deep that she had no conscious thought of them.
Regardless of how I felt about my parents’ skills as being parents, I loved them and respected them for their entire lives. For some reason, I was given to them by God as a third, unplanned and unwanted child. My father wanted me. God is sovereign. He needed me to have them as parents in order to shape me into the person that I am today. Sometimes God does not make sense until you look in the mirror. In an abusive parent should be ‘honored.’
Yes, we must honor our parents, but we should also remember that our parents are sinners. We hope that they are saved by Grace, but they are definitely not perfect. In honoring them, we are honoring God’s chosen representatives. We are honoring God’s sovereignty. And we are recognizing what parenting skills work and those that don’t and those we’d like to improve upon. But also remember that God is our Heavenly Father and He considers each of us Children of God.