“You don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand.” -Unknown
One thing I’ve noticed is that we are too quick to judge our own parents. They may not be living up to our expectations or even up to our standards, but who are we to judge them. I’m pretty sure that most of us had a time in our own lives that we didn’t live up to our parent’s expectations or standards. Did our parents disown us for it? Did they shun us or exclude us from their life? No. Then who are we to judge them and pass sentencing.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
The word doesn’t specify to honor your father and mother IF something, it just says to do it. How are we honoring our parents if we don’t give them just a little bit of the grace that we demanded when we were growing up? Honor means to ‘revere, to treat with respect, in high esteem’. Even if you don’t agree with your parents or believe the same way, you can find something to respect in them. If anything, they raised you. Recognize that some of the good in you is because of them. Hold onto the respectable qualities and extend grace for their shortcomings and challenges. Because you know why? They are human.
As I was growing up, I thought my parents knew everything and were just about perfect. When I became an adult, I began to see their weaknesses. It wasn’t because they had changed. It was my perspective that had changed. I’m sure I came back from college with all sorts of ‘suggestions and advice’ for my parents. They graciously listened, but I’m sure there was a part of them thinking “Punk, who do you think you are?” But it wasn’t what I said that was the problem, it was how I said it. I was prideful that I had all the answers.
When you have been looking up to your parents for so long, it’s a foreign perspective to suddenly feel as if you see eye to eye or may even be taller (in a figurative sense). The challenge is to not let this new perspective become pride, to not assume that you have all the answers. Trust me, pride is never good, especially in relationships.
As daughters, we have a choice
to honor our parents, despite the differences, disagreements, and disappointments
to dishonor them because of differences, disagreements, and disappointments.
Ultimately, we honor our parents by respecting them. After watching my Dad’s reaction to his 60th birthday present, I realized that it isn’t enough to just honor them, you have to actually show them honor.
The 2 best ways to show honor to our parents is to tell them and to include them in our lives. Just like us, they want to be remembered, needed, and wanted. They want to know that they have made a difference in this world. We were their biggest investments in life. How we live our life and include them in it, honors them as our parents.
I recognize that some people have very complicated and challenging relationships with your parents. It’s ok, there is grace. Ask the Lord for grace. Ask the Lord to show you how you can honor your parents.
Parenting starts off as a one way street. In the beginning, it is up to the parents to do all the work in the relationship. The parents set the tone, make the effort, and define the relationships. Then somewhere in the process the kids grow up. The adult kids suddenly have a voice in the nature of the relationship, and the street becomes 2 ways.
It was in college when I realized that the road went both ways with my Grandpa, and I needed to make an effort. I played a role in how deep the relationship could go. I never regretted pursuing that relationship. I had a very close relationship with him, and I knew that some of my cousins didn’t feel the same way. I asked him why he didn’t make more effort to spend time with them. He simply responded, with tears in his eyes “I want to.” I could see that he didn’t think they wanted to spend time with him. His own insecurity was a stumbling block in the relationship. Turns out the man who we all loved and looked up to was human as well.
One one side of the road were grandkids that wanted a closer relationship with their Grandpa and grew up expecting him to engage with them. On the other side of the road was Grandpa, a man who wanted a deeper relationship with his grandkids, but battled his own insecurities and didn’t know how to pursue the relationship beyond being available. In the end, the road with his grandkids was sweet and honorable, but because I made an effort, my road with him turned out to be unique and memorable.
As adults, relationship with our parents and grandparents are 2 way streets. There may be one-lane sections, detours, and road blocks on the way. But despite how messy the road gets, God always paves a path and gives us directions to honor our parents. If you are ever wondering if you are honoring your parents, just use the timeless gauge, ask yourself if you are treating them the way you would like your children to treat you.
Have you struggled with honoring your parents? What are other ways to honor your parents?