Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

"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.