Small Town America

       Exodus 20:12 is said to be the first commandment with promise.  It says, “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God hath given thee.”  We would say, honor your father and mother so you can enjoy a long life.

     Sometimes honoring our parents or grandparents can be a difficult thing.  So many children are raised in incredibly dysfunctional homes.  Some are abused, (both physically and emotionally) neglected, sexually assaulted or even tortured by the ones who brought them into this world.  How do you honor someone like that?

     I was raised in one of those homes.  My father was an alcoholic and my mother was too co-dependant to protect us.   The emotional and mental abuse was terrible.  The physical abuse,  not so bad.  I grew up feeling like I was a worthless, stupid girl because I heard that many times every day.  When you hear a lie often enough, to you it becomes the truth.  Everything bad that ever happened in our house was somehow my fault.  I was the youngest of five children and a sickly child to0.

     It has taken years of inner healing and counseling to be able to talk freely about my childhood.  In fact this is the very first time I have mentioned it publically.  There are still days that I have to look in the mirror and quote God’s word in order to believe the truth about myself.   Father God speaks much differently than my earthy father did.

     Thanks be to God that I found Jesus at seventeen years old.  He has restored my life and enabled me to still honor my parents.   I know they loved me on some level and I know they thought they were doing the best they could.  Maybe that was their best without the knowledge of Jesus.

    At any rate, I honor them for who they are.  God could have placed me in any family ; but He chose this one.  I respect them for always providing for me.  I never went hungry and I never was without clothing.  In fact Mom made most of my clothes and they looked better than store bought ones.  She could look at a catalogue, take her old pattern pieces and make the dress or blouse just like the one the picture.  She was a great cook and always ready to help the needy.  She really was a good person and later in life became a Christian.  She simply didn’t know basic parenting skills.  Her parents died when she was young and she was raised by a sister and her alcoholic husband.  Need I say more in her defense?

     Whenever my dad was at his job or socializing, people loved him.  They would have never recognized that man that I lived with.  Still, he had some good qualities as well.  He was a good provider.  He wouldn’t let anyone else hurt us.  He did his drinking at home, thus sparing us much public embarrassment.  He took us to the beach a few times.  He also took us on one big family vacation to visit relatives in New Mexico.   I do have a few good memories of him, so, I can honor and respect him for some things.

      At some point, if we desire to be all we can for Jesus, we must forgive our parents for their mistakes and cruelty and learn to respect and honor them for their good qualities.  Only Jesus can show you how to do this and only He can give you the grace to walk in the truth of who you are.  I won’t tell you it is easy, but it is possible.

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