Honor Your Father and Mother
Honor your father and mother
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
We see it… We hear it. What does it mean?
The word honor means esteem, value, or great respect.
I always wondered why it was a commandment. Is it not enough to say that we love them and carry on with our lives?
What about when your parents have not treated you well or were not there for you? Are we still required to honor them?
For the majority of my life, I did not honor my father and mother. I thought it was okay as I grew up in a broken home, and I did not have both my parents around. How can I honor both parents when they are not in my life? Better yet, how can I honor a parent that has a past of being abusive and neglectful?
This is something that God has worked out in my life and wants me to share what his grace has healed.
Honoring My Father
The relationship with my father was broken at a young age. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol which caused him to be physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive towards our family.
As a young adult, I knew what forgiveness was, and though I forgave him in my mind and heart for everything that happened, I did not realize that was just the first step.
This year, the LORD spoke to me and told me that I needed to go see my father. It had been over 20 years since I saw my father, and I didn’t see why God was telling me this. He then gave me a thought of being on my deathbed with none of my children present. Compassion and empathy then entered my heart. I didn't even know where he was nor when that door would open. However, I said okay, and if that is what you are calling me to do, then I will be obedient.
When I went to Ohio this past July, I was told I was going to see my father. I was open to doing so although I still had my doubts in my mind. After arriving to my sister's house and realizing my father was an hour away, I was relieved. I thought to myself … he is not close, so surely I won't be expected to make a 2 hour commute to go see him after driving so long to get to Ohio and only having 3 days to visit. Then, God told me very clearly, “Yes, you will go.”
On Saturday morning, my daughter and I drove to Massollin to the nursing home to see my father. He had been there a year and a half after suffering a stroke and being paralyzed on the right side of his body.
When we went in, I was so nervous, and I kept asking God, “Are you sure this is what you want me to do? It’s not too late for me to turn around.” When we went into the room, he was asleep. I had a moment of relief. I said, “Thank God!” At least I tried, now that means I can leave. I turned around, and my daughter and I went to the restroom. I asked her if she was ready to leave. She was looking at me like I was crazy, and said, “Really? You drove all this way to just turn around?” As an excuse, I said, “Well, I don’t want to disturb him.” Then, I realized I needed to have the courage to go in and do what I was told to do.
I knew that I did not have the strength, and I needed help. I went into prayer, and I started to say I AM Affirmations. I AM Brave...I AM Courage...I AM Strength!
I felt God with me as we went back towards the room. As we walked in, my father was awake watching TV. I walked in and said hello although he did not know who I was. After talking for a minute or so, my Aunt Beryl called, and she spoke to us and him. My father kept calling me Aunt Beryl as he had been doing...this was due to the stroke. Even though he wanted to say other things, he repeatedly referred to me as Aunt Beryl. I kept trying to explain that I was his daughter Dawn, and that was his granddaughter Karina, but it was not registering for him.
I was then reminded that about 9 years ago he sent to my email a picture he took of me when I was a little girl and 2 siblings. I began to look for the picture in hopes it would spark a memory for him. I got excited, yet scared, when I found it. I showed it to him, and pointed to myself and said, “This is me, Dawn.”
He looked, and he started sobbing.. He said, “Dawn.”
I said, “Yes, that’s me.” I felt so much pain being released in that moment. My heart began to open up and embrace him in his suffering.
He cried out, “I am so sorry for all I had done. I am so sorry I could not behave.”
“I said to him, “I know, and I forgive you.”
“He said, “Please tell everyone that I am so sorry.”
After we got through who I was and forgiveness was shared, I wanted to change the subject. I told him about the calling God placed in my heart and the book I wrote. He was just so excited and happy for me. It was like he was a child again. He kept calling his wife as he wanted her so desperately to see that his daughter had come to see him. Every 10 minutes, he tried calling. We spent about an hour and a half there. As we got ready to leave, his wife pulled up, and we were able to meet. It was an experience I will never forget.
I learned that forgiveness is not just saying to yourself I forgive someone and then moving on with your life. As I had often heard people say that forgiveness is for you, not the other person. However, clearly going to my dad and forgiving him provided needed healing for the both of us rather than just for me.
Honoring My mother
Growing up with my mother, we had many challenges with and without my father. The abuse had left many effects on my family as my mom had to bare it all while raising 4 children. It wasn't long before the oldest daughter married, leaving only three of us for my mother to raise. My mother continuously had us in church and leaned on God to help us through.
After my sister tired to commit suicide multiple times which landed her in and out of mental hospitals, my mom, too, suffered mental health issues and depression. I never understood what my sister and my mother were experiencing, but I just kept faith. At times, I would feel scared, abandoned and alone; I often lived in my imagination.
Somehow, my mother would pull through and work extremely hard to keep a roof over our heads. I remember one day my mom worked from about 4am to 8pm, and we were driving home after she picked my brother and I up from our grandmother’s house. She was so tired, but knew she needed to get us home and ready for bed so we could go to school the next day, and she could return to work. She asked for us to shake her chair back and forth in order to keep her awake. I felt so bad that my mother worked so hard. She loved God, and yet, we were going through all of these difficulties.
After all the medical bills kept piling up, my mother was not being able to afford our household, so she said we would have to pack up and leave our home. I remember thinking to myself, “whatever,” you are just saying that. I thought how could we not afford to stay where we were. God was watching over us and surely he was going to make a way like he always had even in the times we had no electricity or food.
I know even when we did not have much that my mom was such a servant to others. When things were okay financially, she would give everything into people around her. I remember us buying gifts during Christmas to deliver to the children at the hospital. We would take food and spend time with the homeless. We would go to nursing homes and sing and spend time with the elders. She would open up our home for people from Haiti who would come in for heart surgery.
Her servant leadership was what stuck with me. It was so powerful to see this woman who had gone through so much, not just do for her and her family, but like Christ suffered and poured love into so many people around.
No wonder when we were going through a crisis, God was there with us and would miraculously provide. Somehow, we had the opportunity to be involved in a lot as children, and so many doors were opened for us through sports and camps. I had the opportunity to do ballet, softball, bowling, basketball, swimming, cheerleading, modeling, dancing, piano lessons, and camps with the church every year.
My mother showed me what it was like to have faith and to give back to those around you. She was my role model in exhibiting how our strength comes from the LORD.
Why I choose to honor my father and mother
Because God commanded me to do so!
We would not be in existence if it were not for our parents. They literally deserve our honor for that very reason.
I know it can be challenging. But realizing that there are two broken people that brings life into this world.
None of us have it figured out and we never know how our actions will affect our children. A lot of the time we learn from our parents who learned from their parents.
Who are we to judge what our parents have done when we have not lived their lives. We all need healing and healing comes through Love! We must love each other through our struggles and not blame nor pass judgement.
Living like Christ is loving as he loved. If he chose to give his life for all of us, who are we to do anything less than that. It may be challenging and require enormous strength, but we are not alone. We just need to cry out to the Most High and let that strength flow through us.
What happens when we do not honor our father and mother
Anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death. Exodus 21:15
Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. Exodus 21:17
For God said, “Honor your father and mother” and “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” Matthew 15:4
So, our two options are either to honor our father and mother and live long or not to and be put to death.
Sharing is caring
I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it will help others and bring healing to families. I am aware that not every situation is the same, but hopefully, you can take your situation to the Most High and ask for work to be done that is bigger than you.
Also, remember that sharing is caring, I would love to hear your story of honoring your father and mother. Please comment below and share with others!