“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
I had lunch with my folks on Sunday. It was good; it always is, really. And that got me thinking: not everyone I know can say that about their families. And that got me thinking even more – what is so special about my family? We’re not perfect, and yet every one of my friends who has ever met my folks says (without fail) how amazing they are and how lucky I am. So, for this evening’s blog, I want to honor my parents.
I am so grateful to have parents who love God, live by His Word and have raised me with wisdom and godly principles. When I have had wobbles of faith and moments of doubt, its been my parents who have reminded me of God’s plans for my life and have helped me take the necessary steps of faith. I guess one’s perspective changes as one grows up, because its definitely taken me a while to recognise how many of the qualities I value in myself, are simply the fruit of what my parents have sown…
My parents have lived a life of incredible faith. When I was younger, I didn’t recognise it quite as well. We moved quite a bit when I was growing up; not across town – across country and then across the border too. Yes, these massive moves were necessary for Daddy’s career and we definitely experienced some drastic highs and lows (my sister and I were able to attend one of the most prestigious all girls’ private schools in South Africa because of company benefits, but I also remember a time when we didn’t know where the next meal was coming from). My parents lived by Faith. Daddy taught me to Dream, and even to dare to take crazy steps out into the Unknown. Mom taught me how to Make a Plan and that while dreams are great, without the necessary practical steps, they’re just whims. Both of them gave me the courage to pursue dreams like travelling overseas and developing my photography, and have supported me each step at a time.
Not only was Daddy prepared to step out and follow his dreams, but Mom was right there beside him, supporting him and even more, submitting to his decisions. Their marriage has had an incredible impact upon my view of marriage; they’re partners. Equal, and yet, not. My Dad is the head of our family; I have seen my Mom choose to submit, even when it has not been the easiest or most comfortable option – she has laid aside her own desires (and career) to support my Dad as he pursues his passion. She has been a phenomenal model of what it means to be a Wife; her strength and endurance is terrifying. I know very few women who measure up to her, let alone who do it as graciously as she does. And yet, I know that for every decision Daddy has had to make, he would never ever choose to do anything that would upset Mom. Her happiness is important to him. To the point where we were chatting about personal passions (mine being photography etc) and Mom admitted to not really knowing hers… after some thought she declared her happiness doesn’t come from an activity, but rather, a place. Our holiday home in Sabi to be precise. Up until that moment, that property had been on the market to be sold. Its not anymore. Mom’s happiness is more important. I know this is quite a statement for two flawed people, but I see a lot of Jesus’ love for His Bride, the church, through my parents’ marriage. I know that my future marriage will be blessed because of the foundations that they have laid for me, values deeply entrenched and affirmed through years of Life together.
I guess honoring your parents doesn’t just mean saying nice things about them. Being single, my Dad is still the one I turn to for advice and my Mom’s perspective is always an infuriating combination of wisdom and practical, down-to-earth guidance. When I make decisions, its their opinion that ultimately sways my thinking: I want to honor them in the choices I make and the life I live. I want them to be proud of me. I certainly don’t want to willingly upset them or frustrate them, and if that impacts upon the selfish limits of my own wants, maybe that’s a good thing? I think when God included verse 12 in His 10 Commandments – He obviously intended it in the context of God-fearing parents – He knew it was in the best interest of the person to live a life and make choices that reflected well upon their parents. As we honor our earthly parents, we also honor our Heavenly Father. God, just like Daddy, wants me to be happy and live the best life possible… but Daddy, like God, sometimes has a better perspective on my choices – he looks at my childish whims with Experience and although his advice doesn’t always make me “happy” by advising me to think again… it helps me avoid some really stupid mistakes. Sometimes choosing to listen and obey the “no, that’s not a good idea” leads to the greatest reward – the living longer in the land God has planned for each of us.