“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on earth.’” Ephesians 6:1-3 [NKJV]
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. “ Ephesians 6:10-13 [NKJV]
I’d like to start this off by saying how grateful I am to have such a wise Dad. My story of coming to Christ is not one of sunshine and rainbows or people loving me into Christ’s arms. It’s actually the opposite. I was a broken young girl, feeling like the world and my family had abandoned me. The backstory is a long one but we will skip to the part where my Dad comes into my life. He is technically my Step-Dad but I refer to him as my Dad because the scars he has, which earned him that title, are many. I had a long history of men walking in and out of my life when he came into the picture. So you can imagine the wrath he endured assuming a father figure role to a 14 year old hormonal young lady who had two previous fathers walk out on her. There were many years of fights, rebellion, disobedience, and disrespect coupled by an immense amount of tears and prayer. Needless to say, the closest thing I’ve ever known in comparison to God’s unconditional love is the love this man has shown me throughout the years. It brings me to tears even writing about it. Is he perfect? No, but he himself will tell you that. In fact, that’s one thing I love about him. He will allow himself to be knocked off the pride horse and humble himself by apologizing to those he believes he’s wronged while on the saddle. Not realizing that in these moments, he is setting the example of how to be a godly man and father. Not pretending that he didn’t get caught up in himself, as I believe we all do (and if you disagree, well enjoy your time on the saddle while it lasts), but humbling himself not only before God but before others as well. Being a parent myself in my adult life, it gives me an example to follow when I make mistakes in front of my son and what repentance looks like. We are in a world that is all about self acceptance. Our culture is on a slippery slope and going downhill fast, so when the world encourages people to get on their self righteous high horse, it’s empowering to watch your own father take the narrow path and allow himself to be bucked off that high horse (Matthew 7:14).
Okay so now that I have laid a small foundation of what an amazing man my Dad is, you can understand why I called him this morning seeking prayer for something and ended up spilling the sin in my heart and being rebuked by the Lord over a 2 1/2 hour phone call. To sum it up for you, I got into an argument with my mother last night, as us women sometimes do with our moms, and I lashed out hanging up on her because I felt “neglected.” It sounds extremely dramatic and over the top now that I’m writing about it but to be honest, this is the downside of my “extra” character trait. It was every bit as dramatic as you could imagine and led me into a crying scene, listening to sad music in the bath and crying myself to sleep at 8pm. I know, as I said, extremely dramatic. And my anger quickly turned into me “rebuilding my wall of resentment” that God has been painfully helping me tear down. My wise father, who allowed himself to be used by God today, relayed to me that the Bible does not tell us to “honor our father and mother” when, because, or if they deserve it. It doesn’t say we can do it when we’re in the mood, or that we get a free pass if we’re having a bad day. It doesn’t say you get to stop doing this when you’re an adult either. In fact it tells us that we “may live long on the earth” if we keep that promise (Ephesians 6:3). We also spoke of my responsibility to my own son, how children gain their traits more by what they see than what they hear. And I sure do not want my child to treat me the way I have treated my own mother at times. My Dad spoke about many things, continuing to fight through the self centered state of emotion I was in, and it all came back to forgiveness not only forgiveness of her actions within my own heart, but ASKING for forgiveness for my actions in return. Talk about how difficult swallowing that large pill of humility is. Needless to say, after a lot of kicking and screaming, tears and saying the words “Me” and “I” too often, God bucked me off my own high horse and hitting the ground hurt. I find it extremely interesting that Paul talks about honoring your parents and putting on the full armor of God in the same chapter, just verses apart. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I believe my Dad and I are of like mind when we say that some of the most hurtful attacks come from the ones we love the most. And what an eye opener when we allow ourselves to be used to derail someone we say we love instead of building them up (another brilliant insight from my Dad). It is so important for us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be successful in honoring our mother and father, and be a joy to them instead of a deterrent. I am grateful that God has given me a guide on earth to show me what humbling myself looks like, so that I can first make myself right with Him, and then my mother.
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,” 1 Peter 5:5-6 [NKJV].
I don’t often add to posts after I’ve written them, but the Lord is leading me to throw in a few things as I edit and publish this one (almost two months after writing it). Ladies, it is so easy for us to get caught up in our emotions and react instead of respond. This post is a reminder, as we are in some very uncertain and frustrating times right now, that the enemy wants to provoke us into reacting negatively to those around us when we feel “triggered.” But remember that Paul calls us to abound in love to one another and all (1 Thessalonians 3:12). I have seen the enemy at work harder than ever lately. Let us pray for our family, our friends, and ourselves that we would all be putting on the full armor of God and lifting those around us up in all we do. May God bless and keep each one of you as we begin this new week!