The Lord commands us to “honor our parents and your days will be long upon the earth” Exodus 20:12. Have you ever stopped and wondered exactly what honor means? When I was a child, I heard that verse quoted a great deal when I was treading on the edge of disrespect or disobedience. As an adult, I have thought that it meant to be kind to your parents, even when disagreements occur between father and/or mother and child.
Modeling Correct Behavior
For more than thirty years, I was a parent of children living within my home. Honor seemed like a carrot that was dangled in front of our sons and our daughter. It was our job to “teach” them to honor us. We had to model respect and obedience in order for our kids to understand how they should treat others.
As Life Changes
Life changes quickly. One day you are busy with little ones around your feet and your every moment seems consumed with taking care of their every need. Then, as they begin to grow, the focus becomes even more chaotic. Parents spend the majority of their time making sure lunches are packed, sports practices and games are attended, everyone has clean clothes for school, church, etc., and making sure the finances are available to support a stretched household budget. As time progresses, some of those responsibilities are placed on the children that you are teaching to become independent and able to live on their own as able-bodied, self-sufficient adults. Then, it happens…one by one, the children that you have poured most of your life into begin to leave the nest. Life as you knew it no longer exists and as a parent, you feel uneasy and unsure of your place and purpose. Does honor suddenly happen? While it might, it is unlikely that you will feel honored by children who have just left home. In fact, you wonder if those precious babies that you gave so sacrificially to for so many years even remember you exist!
Time, Patience, and Love
Eventually, adult children settle into their new roles and figure out what is important in life. As they settle into careers, get married, and begin families of their own, suddenly they realize family is important. Honor is remembered and they remember to call their parents and grand parents if they cannot be home for holidays and other special occasions, and they remember that spending time with their parents and family is a gift that should be embraced. And, as a parent of grown children, you accept that life is different and you learn to discover a new purpose. This all takes time, patience, and love.
Honor Takes On New Meaning
So, what does honor look like as an older adult? Your children are all on their own and thriving. You have settled into a new phase of life and things seem to be going good. Then, another phase of life suddenly presents itself. If you are blessed enough to have living parents, health issues begin to present themselves and honor begins to take on a new meaning. My husband and I are both fortunate to have our moms within driving distance. My husband’s mom is eighty-six years old and needs a great deal of support. We spend a lot of our weekends and holidays traveling to provide the support she needs. In my opinion, honor means caring for those who need a little extra help. At times, it means sacrifice and becoming selfless in order to make sure their needs are met. It means listening to them talk when we would rather escape on Facebook or relax by watching a made-for-TV movie. I believe honor means doing whatever is necessary to make sure they know they are loved and that someone cares.
Every Stage Of Life Deserves Honor
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, as children we are taught to honor our parents through their modeling and instruction. Does this mean that when we are parents of grown children that we stop modeling and instructing our kids and grand kids? I believe the answer to this question is no, not at all! While advice should not be given unless it is asked, modeling continues as long as we have breath! As opportunities to honor and serve our parents and other family members present themselves, we are instructing our children and grand children on what it looks like to honor our loved ones at every stage of life.
Honor Within Your Family
Honor can look different within each family unit. I would love to hear your story and how parents or other family members are honored. Please share and help us grow in understanding of how God has prompted those within families to honor one another.