Jessica Snyder

For many of my friends growing up, the command to ‘Honor your father and mother’ looked like doing their chores when asked and saying “Thank you.” That command in my life looked a little different. While it may not have been noticed on the outside, growing up I experienced and witnessed abuse, substance misuse, and bouts of overall instability.

My parents divorced when I was going into 5th grade and a year or so later I found myself living with just my dad. My dad worked long hours so I spent most of my time by myself. At 12, I got connected with a local church student ministry. Around that time, I was temporarily kicked out but kept going to church. I kept hearing sermons around “honoring your father and mother.” I was extremely confused about how I could possibly honor someone who had mistreated me and other family members or to honor someone I thought had abandoned me. Around 13 I showed honor to my mom by living with her again and repairing our relationship. I never really spoke with my dad again until last year. I’m now 28 years old, a college graduate and married. My dad contacted me last year after the passing of his father and I chose to show honor by allowing him to contact to offer an apology and an attempt to a slow road of reconciliation.

Even though I didn’t have a roadmap and didn’t know how to ask for it, to me honoring my father and mother during an extremely difficult childhood was by forgiveness. Even in times of frustration and confusion, I didn’t hold on to anger and always chose to forgive. Some things I had to ask myself and verses I found to accompany them are below. I would encourage someone else navigating what it looks like to honor a parent who disappointed them to ask them as well.

Am I focused more on the actions of others rather than the position of my own heart?

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Am I pursuing God’s best for my life or am I harboring resentment?

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” Colossians 3:8, 12-13

Will I allow God to help me find healing and a way to move forward through a terrible circumstance?

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”Romans 5:3-4

Sometimes honoring your father and mother doesn’t look like doing your chores and being nice if you’re not provided with a traditional childhood, but however it looks, it is a way to show obedience to God. By showing honor to my parents I was able to pursue God’s best for my life and experience freedom. Even when it is extremely difficult, it is worth it.

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