January 6, 2010
Relating to parents after the age of 16 can be tricky at times. Teenagers feel like they don’t need help or advice, and parents feel powerless as they watch their children make mistakes they believe could have been avoided.
I’ve struggled most of my life with relating to the people who love me the most. Whether my strong-will, my complete lack of humility, or my hurt feelings, I have never given my parents the respect they deserve. Oftentimes, their attempts to guide me was met with stubborn indifference, or worse
More than any of these things, though, I believe my sense of entitlement was most detrimental to our relationship. Instead of accepting my parents as they were, (warts and all, as my drama teacher used to say) I kept holding out, waiting for them to become the parents I thought I deserved.
In my mind, these people who struggled and fought to raise me, owed me certain things before they earned my trust and respect. I’m still learning how ridiculously erred my thinking was, and can still be.
These days, I’m happy to say that I can see clearly the difference God has made in me. When conflict arises, I find myself attempting (though not always succeeding) to be the peacemaker. I often hear the commandment “Honor your mother and father” in my mind when I feel like being irate and storming around, and I know that kind of calm reason is a product of the Holy Spirit.
Now that I have a child of my own, my relationship with my parents has become even more complicated. Some lines are being re-drawn, some are being established for the first time. Regardless, I’ve come to realize a few things.
First, I realize that parents are still people. Mistakes are a part of life for both parents and children, and forgiveness is necessary. Second, I’ve learned that nothing is ever as easy as it looks—not even the things that come “naturally.” Love, parenting, friendship–they all require mass amounts of time, energy, and effort.
I’ve also come to realize “Honor your mother and father” is key for a few other reasons.
God said Honor YOUR mother and father. Not the father and mother you think you should have. Not the mother and father society thinks you should have, or the ones that you have always wanted—yours, the ones you currently have. They deserve respect just because they are your parents.
It’s also important to know that the Commandments were not rules about the easy things that came naturally. God was decreeing rules that went directly against the human nature of idolatry, adultery, and disrespect of every other kind. If it were easy, He wouldn’t have had it written down—twice!
I am far from perfect, and there is a long, difficult road ahead, but each day I am confident that God is drawing me nearer to Him. I just hope that I can learn to honor Him by honoring those around me.
To find out more about the Commandments and why they had to be written twice, check out the page titled “God has to repeat Himself” at the upper right hand part of the page.
January 1, 2010
Too many times in my walk with God (and with some people in my life) I’ve caught myself thinking “I’ve gone too far. No one would accept me the way I am.” Those thoughts often kept me from even trying to connect with the spiritual on anything but an intellectual level. As usual, God rearranged my thinking with a simple statement or two.
Almost a month ago while reading my study Bible, I came across an excerpt referencing the prodigal son. For those unfamiliar, the prodigal son is a parable Jesus told about a young man who squandered his inheritance on worldly things and eventually had to return to his father or starve. The son was simply going to beg to be taken in as his father’s servant, but the father was so delighted to have the son back that he welcomed him with a feast.
In the study portion of my Bible, was this message: “Maybe you feel so much guilt that you think no one would still love you if you were exposed…But God’s grace and love far outweigh every shameful thing we’ve ever done…God’s love and forgiveness, which can erase our shame, is available for everyone who comes to Him.”
There is what hope can be built on. See, what people don’t often remember is that Jesus already died. Salvation cannot be earned or attained. It just is. It is a gift, an inheritance that is available, from birth, to everyone and has been since Jesus’ death. All people have to do is accept it.
Granted, it’s probably not a good idea to squander the gifts of God, but it’s also good to know that He will take us back. There is no “too far” when the price has already been paid—there are only people who choose not to live out the promise of God. Those who walk away and never come back to the Father have to live out the consequences just as the prodigal son would have starved had he not humbled himself and returned.
Though I’ve claimed to believe in Jesus for most of my life, I never could bring myself to believe in the promise which He told through the parable of the prodigal son. Even if we’ve squandered the inheritance that God granted us, He will welcome us back. Just as long as we recognize that home is wherever He is and that the gifts he gave are the only ones that will sustain us.
The parable of the prodigal son can be found in Luke 15.