Lately, I’ve been preaching through the Ten Commandments. This sacred list of God’s rules has been cherished by religious folks throughout history. Numbers 1-3 lay the foundation for functioning in a God-centered society. Number 4 appears to be specific to the Jewish culture (though some would challenge me on this). Numbers 6-10 are pretty straightforward, common sense rules for living with others.
But what do we do with number five?
“Honor your father and your mother.” It seems so loving. So simple. And it is for many.
I grew up in a loving, nurturing home. My parents loved and provided for me. My father was a carpenter and he worked long, hard hours to provide a roof over my head and food on the table. He played catch with me when I was young and seldom missed my games or performances. My mom was my den mother, secretary of the PTA, and the maker of hot chocolate when I was sick.
My parents were active in our church family and raised me to believe in God, treat others kindly, and be generous with my money and belongings. We trusted the Bible as God’s word and lived by the Golden Rule.
I was never mistreated, abused, neglected, or overpowered by my parents. But I have known many who did not live such healthy and idyllic lives as children. Many.
I married one of those.
Wanda grew up in a home much different from mine. She is a survivor of abuse…psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual. She is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACA). She lived with unfairness, unpredictability, and fear. There were certainly stretches of love and provision and nurture, but the abuse dominated and produced a foundation of insecurity, empty self-esteem, and fear of failure and rejection, that has taken a lifetime to overcome.
When we started dating at 15, I stepped into this chaos. It was there I learned to be a “rescuer” and the repercussions of those early years of our relationship have lasted decades. And not always in healthy ways! It affected how we interacted with my parents. It certainly shaped what our relationship was like with her parents and extended family. It provided the backdrop of how we have related to each other for a lifetime, as well as how we raised our own kids.
Her family dynamic has clearly been felt for multiple generations.
Let’s just say that “honoring your father and your mother” has been a complicated command.
More to come…