“Respect your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12 NASB)
“He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness.” (Proverbs 20:20 NASB)
I want to start my first Wisdom of Marion column dealing with our relationships with our parents. For most people, this relationship can be the most rewarding or fulfilling relationship we could ever have or it could be the most hurtful or confusing or misunderstood relationship we will ever have with another human being(s).
I have to write from my own experience with my parents. My mother and I have a great relationship and with me being the youngest of eighth children I couldn’t have a better relationship growing up.
In fact, my 11 month old daughter, Norah, is named after my mother as a tribute to her influence in my life.
However, my relationship with my father is totally different. My mother and father never married and he was around sporadically in my childhood. I always wanted to hear from him and was eager to see him when he came by on his infrequent visits.
But, I always felt there was something missing and I didn’t know or could ever put my finger on it growing up. Now, I know that a boy needs a man as a constant presence in his life. Either will resent or hate authority or go searching for a man to look up to.
I did both in my young adulthood well into my 20s. Because of that search, I hated my father and at one time was in the process of changing my last name.
Well, my father died in November 2004 of lung cancer and a couple of years earlier I started to forgive him because of unrealistic expectations I had of our relationship.
Even though, I had not spoken to him in eleven years. I began to realize my father lived life the best he could and I couldn’t keep the anger and resentment inside of me anymore. It was time to let go.
When he died, I was the last person to see his body before they closed the casket and I felt immediately this weight was lifted off my shoulders. He was gone and all that anger and resentment didn’t matter anymore. I saw in him that life’s finality is the ultimate game-changer.
Also, I look back at that time and I believe his passing was the door that opened my relationship to God and becoming a Christian.
Lastly, I wrote this week column to urge anyone who has had a troubled relationship with their parents to please honor them no matter what.
I have heard various co-workers over the years talk about their parents in condemning or condescending terms. I must admit that always bothered me. I don’t know why it did, but I felt it was out of place to talk about one’s parents like that.
What I realize is that God decided what parents will have and what family you will belong to. We had no control or any input on probably the most important relationship most people will ever have in their lives.
So I feel God must want us to honor our parents because we will be honoring his creation of our existence into life. And learning to love people as well as Him starts in that relationship.