I’m still recovering from Father’s day, emotionally processing so to speak, so many people’s stories. Stories of separation and estrangement, of reconciliation and loss. Bittersweet and poignant tales from those who genuinely took those words to heart about honoring your parents, even your really difficult parents. That’s not so easy, but it bears great fruit.
I’m one of those people who really wrestled with God about that, perhaps for some 30 years. Does not apply in my case, my parents were just too rotten, too dysfunctional. I don’t mean to be unkind to them, it’s just the truth. I felt as if I had been sacked with a huge burden. It put a separation between God and I too, because God apparently had not met my parents. He obviously did not understand the situation. So I did not fully trust Him.
That making peace with your parents, genuine forgiveness, restoration, is huge. We’re called to it because God says, but there are amazing benefits for us too, spiritual fruits, genuine peace.
I love Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” All in good humor here, but we’ve just discovered the fountain of youth! There is a promise there. Why must we be reconciled to those who may have taken more than they gave? That your days may be long! I jest a bit, but there is truth there. There is a burden, a weight, that comes from unresolved, estranged relationships that will wear you down, that will make you look and feel much older than you should, as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
There’s a saying I really like, “they did the best they could with what they had.” It really helps with forgiveness, with acceptance. If your parents wrestled with addiction, they did the best they could with what was left over. Sometimes even that can be hard to see, but it is true. Given who they were and what they had to offer, “they did the best they could.”
Recently Citizen Tom took it a step farther on Wally’s thread about his own dad, and spoke of the widow and her two mites at the temple. I loved that analogy so much, I had to share it because that’s the power of the bible in action, that’s The Word come to life, that is how it can heal. The widow in Mark 12:41-44, she throws in two mites at the temple because that is all she has to give. And Jesus says, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
The tale is one about money, but it fits with the idea of people too, of forgiving those who have so little of themselves to give, but recognizing that they have “cast in all that she had, even all her living.” All of their messy, flawed, downright abusive living, because it was all that they had to give.
We honor our parents when we figure out how to honor that truth about who and what they are and and manage to forgive them, to see them as people not parents, and to allow the Lord to restore and replace what was lost or stolen within us. I’ve been really blessed, I got to be my father’s daughter before he passed, there was restoration and healing, but the restoration I am speaking of is not necessarily a physical one, but really the restoration of our own heart and our own relationship with the Lord.