A Journey Backwards

A Journey Backwards

“History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.” ~Robert Warren Penn

Recently, as I sat in church listening to the sermon, my pastor made this statement, “Some parents come to the table deficient.”  He paused for a moment, looked across the congregation and said, “Let me correct that statement.  We ALL , as parents, come to the table deficient.  Some come with more deficiencies than others, but we are all deficient.”

It was refreshing and somewhat freeing to hear those words as I thought about my own deficiencies as a parent.  It also points us straight to the cross and gospel parenting.  Wise are the parents who are willing to open the door and allow their children the opportunity to acknowledge past hurts and woundedness., and it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)…a change of heart and direction.

As we begin the journey backwards to examine our past, the starting point is our family of origin.  This sometimes causes confusion and concern for Christians.  Some feel as if they are dishonoring their parents by acknowledging deficiencies, past hurts, and /or traumatic events in their lives.  Little do we understand that the inability to properly process these can actually set us up for destructive behavior patterns that repeat with our own children and permeate other significant relationships.

Our experience with our parents in our family is unique.  While many people share similar family experiences, nobody has exactly the same perspective as you.  Some children are privileged to enjoy the blessing of being raised in a stable and loving home.  Other were not.  So how do we honor our father and mother if they behave dishonorably?  A biblical example of this was in the life of Saul.  He was both an ineffective leader and an abusive father.  He had fits of rage, mood swings, and irrational behavior.  Saul threw a spear at Jonathan intending to kill him. ( 1 Samuel20:33)  What kind of father throws a spear at his son?

The word “honor” in the fifth commandment means “give weight to” or “regard as heavy”.  As an adult, our relationship with our parent changes.  We are no longer under the obligation of obedience.  We honor our parents by giving just weight to what they say or to their actions.  Then decide the right course of action remembering that our first loyalty is to God and the second is to my spouse.

Now that we have a clear understanding that it is not dishonoring to examine the past, we will explore ways we adapt in our family of origin to get our needs met, and how we carry these adaptations into our present adult relationships. Ouch!!

Next time…