Honor Thy Parents


Ephesians 6:1-3 AMP (emphasis mine)
Children, honor thy parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right. Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—this is the first commandment with a promise—That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.

God gave me an excellent incentive to deal with my parents: my own health and happiness.  In refusing to honor my parents, I was under a curse from God Himself.  That’s one bracing bucket of ice water right in the face!  And mildly rage-inducing as well.  I mean, God gave me my parents – that’s on Him.  But if I don’t like it, then it will NOT be well with me and I might not live very long?! Talk about stacking the deck!

Honor thy parents…how?

From the start, God made sure I understood that He made the rules, He called the shots and He had the final say.  He knew, long before I did, that this was about His sovereignty – not my parents.  God never lied to me. He was infinitely patient and merciful, and He never moved an inch.  From my rebellious perspective, He was absolutely maddening.

I remember yelling, “What do You even mean when You say ‘honor thy parents?!’  What does that even look like and how do I do it?”  A week later I was reading the first draft of Martha’s booklet, The Great Lie.  It changed my life.  From that precious booklet:

“’Make peace with everyone in your life, so far as you can…’

[God] explained that ‘making peace’ means:

‘Accept, accept, accept the life I have given you.
Desire no other life. When you receive the life I have given you,
I will show you the life that I have given you.’”

When I read that, I knew that I had never accepted my life – or anyone in it.  For as long as I could remember, I was ever on the hunt for something better than who I was and what I had.  What’s more, I didn’t want to make peace with my parents.  They were a permanent scapegoat for me.  “God, if you’d given me better parents then I would be a better person.  It’s your fault.” I felt sorrier for me than anyone else that ever lived.  If Irresponsibility has a best friend, then it’s Self-pity, and my heart was their home.

God, of course, had a different view of things.

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.
Proverbs 19:3 NLT

Honor thy parents…by accepting them.

My parents weren’t the problem; my response to my parents was the problem.  And the first step that God required of me in this process was to accept my parents and accept my life.  He asked me to receive reality and accept responsibility for what I had done with the life He’d given me.

This took time.  I wrestled and roared and cried and kicked and accused and (eventually) crumbled.  I surrendered to God’s choice and thanked Him for my mom and my dad.  Then He gave me repentance for the rebellion and anger and irresponsibility and self-pity that He’d showed me thus far – and the healing began.

There’s still quite a ways to go, but I’ll end this first chapter with another excerpt from The Great Lie:

“We want to be healed and make peace with it without making peace with God who allowed it. Healing of painful memories in childhood does not come without bowing the neck. After acceptance comes healing.

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[…] you’ve been following my posts on dealing with parents, you’ll notice that so far I have neither described nor proscribed […]

10 years ago

Parents, relatives, family. These are the first focus of offenses in all of our lives, and at the same time it seems it is the world we have been given to bring in the Kingdom. What an incredible test. Along with “relationships”, it is the real thing where the whole gospel comes on. Even Jesus Christ was tested on this. He had his own family, *very* chosen of the Spirit. But even though *very* chosen of the Spirit, He had to confront the issue. He had to choose. And it has been registered He confronted the issue. He had to,… Read more »

10 years ago

Bless you, Jennifer, for your courage in sharing your journey on this important topic! I so appreciate your transparency in disclosing your own rebellion and how God dealt with you in humbling you to learn to honor Him through honoring your own parents whom He mercifully appointed to you. I look forward to your continued unveiling of your story of repentance, forgiveness, and healing that brought you to reconciliation with your parents. I’ve been on the side of being the child who had to do what you’re describing–of repenting, forgiving, and looking to my own parents through the eyes of… Read more »