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Honoring your parents

All parents hurt children. Some do it in small ways and others inflict what may be permanent wounds. It comes with the job. I don't know a person who hasn't been hurt by their parents. All of which can make the fifth commandment to honor them difficult. My parents came to World Race…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

All parents hurt children. Some do it in small ways and others inflict what may be permanent wounds. It comes with the job. I don't know a person who hasn't been hurt by their parents.

All of which can make the fifth commandment to honor them difficult.

My parents came to World Race training camp this past week. They were introduced to the 240 racers present and got two standing ovations. They shared a few stories of what it was like to raise me. The racers laughed. My parents were a hit.

This was gratifying on a number of levels. For one thing, it has not always been easy between my parents and I. They told the story of why they sent me on my first short-term missions trip as a junior in high school. Apparently, I was so ornery and difficult that they just wanted to get me out of the house for the summer.

Mostly, I remember feeling miserable during my high school years. I couldn't wait to get out. Some people love their homes. Not me – I was glad to hit the road.

These days, with the passage of time, it's not hard to honor my parents. In addition to taking care of me and sending me to good schools, they've done the following:

  • They discipled me.
  • They gave me the model of a journeying life.
  • They sent me on multiple journeys and encouraged my exploring spirit.
  • They've always been great supporters of my ministry.
  • They've prayed for me.

Still, we've had our moments. I had stuff to process with them, yet we weren't a family that processed our stuff very well.

Some of you reading this post have truly bad parents. They have neglected you or abused you. You've been left with permanent scars. Forgiving them may seem impossible, much less honoring them. How do you do that?

I've not no great answers, but I'll say this: locking the issue away is not a good solution. Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We have to work at forgiveness – not for them, but for ourselves. If it's going to be a project, it's better to start work on the project rather than suffering with the residue of unforgiveness.

If it's true that all parents hurt children, it's also true that all parents have in some way loved their children. The trick is to learn how our parents have sought to love us and to honor that action.

Yes, we do it for them; but we also do it for us, so that we may live free. And we do it for our children, that we might not pass on whatever struggles we've gone through.

For a good article how to honor your parents, go here.

Comments (6)

  • Written so well and precise. I thank my parents for always being there and continuing to believe and challenge me. God has blessed me richly and I’m so thankful.

  • Thanks Seth for this reminder. It caused me to remember again the grace God has given me to forgive and actually deeply love a father who sexually abused me at an early age and then let rage cause him to inflict tormenting beatings and often.

    He has been gone more than twenty years now but each time I go back to Virginia and drive past his cemetery I try to remember those things I can respect.

  • Thanks daddy.I am missing my parents.my parents are in Heaven as you know that.I am proud of my parents.Thank God I have daddy Seth and Mama Karen.May God bless them and give them live long for His glory.I proud both you.You always encourage me.

  • This is good reminder of how far I have come over the years in healing . Being verbally abused and being robbed of any sense of knowing who I was, It was difficult not to feel hate and anger towards my mother. I was also manipulated by well meaning people to have a relationship with her still, even though I was not healed enough to face my demons. That was disastrous, and yes I have now woken up.and smelt the coffee! Let God heal her, stay away till he redeems the relationship. (I’ve done my bit) I have forgiven her only by the love Jesus has poured into me, otherwise it is impossible. The only way I can love her is through him. That doesn’t mean go and have contact she still abuses me now if she had the chance! That’s my honouring her, is,recognising her need for forgiveness and loving her as,Christ does. Otherwise I can only struggle with that concept as it was used as emotional blackmail by her and these well meaning people. Parents also conveniently forget do not exasperate your children!

  • I had great, loving parents – a wise mother and a father whose other name was abnegation. We had abundant love for one another and yes! in the midst of all this I somehow felt I was not getting enough love from my mom like my siblings got. I have had differences with my mom in particular, about many topics be it personal or common in nature. But I have always thanked God for giving me such loving parents and as a Hindu I do believe in rebirths and I want the same parents in every birth of mine.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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