"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12
I am a religious person. One of the driving forces in my life is to be obedient to God. To please Him. Knowing that I please Him brings me great peace. Knowing when I don't brings me discontent and sadness.
I have struggled with this commandment.
When I was young I thought it meant that I should do what I was told. Plain and simple.
As I got older I began to question that. What if it isn't possible to obey my parents and God? What if their desires are in conflict?
I also remember reading that scripture and imagining some parents using it as a threat. Obey me and I'll let you live (that thy days may be long).
I hope I have learned a lot more about that command. I have taught it to children many times over the years through various church callings. I hope I have taught it in my home. Each time I have taught it I have focused on the word honor.
I come from a difficult childhood. I did not, and still do not, have a good relationship with my father. I spent most of my life fearing him. I often still do. My mom did the best she could and we had a pretty good relationship, until I realized that I was often used as the surrogate spouse. And now, when she is struggling, it can be tough to spend time with her.
And so, as I recently spent two weeks working on this commandment and trying to figure out how it fit into my life as an adult, I struggled still.
I no longer believe it is my job to obey them. I must find my own way. I do not think my father agrees with me.
I no longer believe it is my job to be what they want me to be. I need to be who I truly am, to find my eternal self and be true to that.
And I no longer believe I must be at their beck and call. It is time for me to concentrate on my family and build my life.
I do believe I owe them something. I can treat them with respect, speak of them with respect when they are not around. I can help them when I am able. I can be grateful for the good things that are in my life because they are my parents.
Those would be great things. Sometimes I can do those things. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes I can't be in the same room with my father without intense anxiety. Sometimes I beg family members to rescue me from my mother. Sometimes I talk about how crazy they are and how much stress they cause me.
I still feel like I don't have a good grip on this one. The best thing I think I can do at this time is be a good person. I think that brings them honor. Even when they don't appreciate it.