I’m well aware that I won the parental lottery. If you’ve ever met my mom, you know that she’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. She’d give you the world if she could. Everything I know of kindness, I’ve learned from her. My dad was the one who disciplined me when I misbehaved, and in this regard, I’d say that he was more stern than strict as he was unwavering but not unfair. He taught me life lessons. All of that said, he wasn’t a particularly serious man because I inherited my sense of humor from him.
My parents were (and are) supportive of me. They encouraged me to be smart, to be myself, and to do what made me happy. They always worked hard to provide for their children. They raised their daughters and their son the same way, showing preference for no one and no gender. There has never been a time that I doubted that they loved me. And when my dad died, I was upset, but I was also very grateful for having such an incredible dad.
Every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I think of those who don’t have such excellent parents. To see everyone else celebrating theirs must be difficult. It wasn’t hard for me to honor my parents, which isn’t to say that I always did. But I can see how the fifth commandment would be difficult for those whose parents weren’t so great.
God commands us in Exodus 20:12 (NLT), “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
This is the first commandment God gives us that regards how we treat other people and how we interact with them. This makes some sense since our parents are the first people we know. They provide for us. They shape us. They train us for and teach us about the world. It makes sense that we would honor them because they’re the reason we’re alive and one of the main reasons why we are how we are. This also expands out to how we interact with other people and how we treat God.
My mom is so good at sending me on a guilt trip that she once did it without actually doing it. She scolded me in a dream I once had. I’d been pretty rude to my sister for a couple of weeks. We’d been getting on each other’s nerves and bickering. In my dream, my mom called me out on it, saying I’d just been so mean to my sister lately. I felt so guilty when I woke up that I started being nicer to her that very day.
My dad told me to look at things from other people’s perspectives. I (mostly) remember waking up in the middle of the night once when I was quite little and asking my dad if I could sleep in the bed with him and my mom. I’ve been told that there was more than one occasion when my brother and I both did this, and although I don’t remember that part, it must’ve happened that night because I vividly remember talking to my dad about my brother when we got up. In the living room, which was lit only by the television screen, my dad told me to think about what it must’ve been like for my brother, how he must’ve woke up in the middle of the night and found my bed empty (we’ve been roommates since the day I was born), and how scared he must have been. So (I’m assuming) he made the same pilgrimage to my parents’ room that I’d made earlier that night, and my dad made me consider why that was.
From listening to my parents and obeying them in both of these instances and many others, it has been engrained into me to be nice to others and to try to understand why they’re doing certain things or behaving certain ways. Honoring them taught me how to honor others.
And because I know how to honor my earthly parents, I also know how to honor my Heavenly Father.
I know from listening to my parents how to honor them. In college, I learned that they like to hear from me if I’m not physically with them. I called home about once a week and tried to come home once a month. When I was a child, I learned they wanted honesty and truth. I learned how to make them feel loved, what they expected of me, and how much it hurt them when I disappointed them.
My relationship with God is the same way. I read the Bible and see what He wants from and for all of His children, and through prayer and guidance, I can learn what His tailored desires for me and expectations of me are. I know to express my love to Him through true worship, obedience, and sacrifice. And the biggest way to honor Him, which is actually the limb that all of the afore mentioned branches extend from, is to spend time with Him.
We look at this verse as a commandment for children, but the truth is that’s only where it starts. As long as we have a mother and/or father, we are to honor them. By doing that, we also honor our Heavenly Father, who is most worthy of it. If we’ve been made new in Christ, that should be our main goal.
By Carrie Prevette