“When you’re a child you think your parents know everything, when you are a teenager you hate your parents for not knowing everything, when you forgive your parents for being human, then you are an adult.” – my daughter
I love her so much for that. It helped me learn to forgive myself. I was not a perfect parent but I did the best I could. I continue each day, knowing I am still mother (and father) to three of the most beautiful and unique spiritual beings I have ever met. It is the greatest of honors.
Honor your father and your mother so you may live long in the Land the Lord is giving you. – Exodus 20:12
This is the commandment I hated the most when I was young. “Yeah, but what if your parents are bad people. I asked. What if your Dad’s a murderer or a rapist? What if your Mom is broken, too hurt by life and society to get past her own pain to see her child’s needs?” I asked.
My first step to coming to terms with this was to look at the verb “Honor.”
honor |ˈänər|(Brit. Honour )
verb [ with obj. ]
1 regard with great respect: Joyce has now learned to honor her father’s memory | (as adj. honored) : an honored guest.
• pay public respect to: talented writers were honored at a special ceremony.
2 fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement): make sure the franchisees honor the terms of the contract.
• accept (a bill) or pay (a check) when due: the bank informed him that the check would not be honored. – The New Oxford American Dictionary
Which led me to look at the verb “respect.”
verb [ with obj. ]
admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements: she was respected by everyone she worked with | (as adj. respected) : a respected academic.
• have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of: I respected his views.
• avoid harming or interfering with: it is incumbent upon all boaters to respect the environment.
• agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement): he urged all foreign nationals to respect the laws of their country of residence.-The New Oxford American Dictionary
Neither word says to agree completely with, nor to worship as infallible. I chose to take this commandment as an urging to look for the good in your parents and admire their achievements no matter how small they may seem to us when we are young, to learn about their feelings and wishes, and to the best of our ability abide by those wishes. Chances are as we get older we will see those small achievements were much bigger than we thought.
But as Kahlil Gibran said “Your children are not your children . . .” All of us belong first to ourselves, as children of God, if that is our belief or as responsible, sentient beings if that is our path. But we only belong to our parents, our families and ancestors second, as we are able while we fulfill our own spiritual destiny.
The second thing that I wonder about in the meaning of this commandment, especially looking at the end of it “ . . .so you may live long in the Land the Lord is giving you.” What if father was Father Sky and mother was Mother Earth? For me Father Sky represents the weather and seasons, while Mother Earth is the land and water, mountains and valleys. No matter your religious beliefs, respect for the earth, its seasons and weather are vital to life. I chose to follow both meanings. The older, I get the more I understand the battles my parents and their parents fought so that I would exist today, but I also look at the natural world as a parent to me and my family, it made life possible. I hope it will continue.