Deuteronomy 5:16, one of the Ten Commandments, says, "Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (NKJV)
When Father's Day, or Mother's Day, comes around how is a child whose suffered abuse or neglect under the hands of his parents supposed to show honor? Is he supposed to portray a lie and display admirable words of affection through sentimental cards?
Is he to reward an abusive and neglectful parent with gifts of abundance? Is he simply supposed to forget the horrors he suffered or pretend they never happened?
I do not have any answers as to how one forgets the horrors of an abusive and or neglectful childhood. I do, however, offer a step toward healing one's broken heart and spirit, that has been beneficial, not only to me, but also to others.
Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations have always been very difficult for me. They are not days I "celebrate" very well. When I became a parent these two holidays, grew increasingly more difficult. I love, cherish and appreciate the gifts, cards, flowers, words of blessing and admiration my own children bestow upon me. But, from the view out my window, these holidays are not about me, but like my children, I view them as holidays to celebrate and honor my own parents.
It is very sad to admit, but I do not have any "good" memories of my mother. I am sure she loved me in her own way and I am also sure there were some good times and there should be some good memories of her. But, the bad days and the bad times were so wounding to my heart and mind, no matter how hard I try, I can not recall them. In her youth, my mother was a phenomenal beauty and she had a smile that would light up the darkest of nights. People tell me she sang quite well. I've also been told that she not only loved to dance, but no one was as light on her feet as my mother. But that's what people say, I have no memories of my mother dancing or singing. No, the memories I have of my mother are very dark memories indeed.
Like my mother, I struggle to find "good" childhood memories of my father. Now days, he tells me quite often that he loves me and, like my mother, I am sure in his own way this is true. In his youth, at more than 6 feet tall and nearly 200 lbs. of solid muscle, like my mother, he was something to gaze upon. I have all the old photos. But what I don't have are memories of his provision or his protection.
My parents divorced and, I suppose that in some sense my father also divorced me. I'd go months, sometimes years without hearing from him or visiting him. It was not of my doing, I was only a girl. No, it was his. He was busy pursuing happiness. He used to tell me, "I can't make anyone else happy until I am happy myself". During high school, I lived with my mother's brother and sister-in-law. They were/are good people. But, my father had a very deep seeded dislike for my mother's brother - as a matter of fact there aren't many people he dislikes more. I do not know, nor do I want to know, the details as to why my father dislikes my uncle. But I have often wondered, why would a father allow a man he hates to raise his daughter? What was wrong with me that I didn't bring him any happiness? My father raised my brother, who was only 13 months younger than I. Why was I not as important as my brother? My father knew of my mother's hatred and abuse toward me, why did he ignore it? Did he, too, think I deserved it?
How am I to honor my father on this holiday? How do I honor my late mother on Mother's Days? I forgive them. Forgiveness does not dry the tears I've shed. It does not excuse the abuse, neglect or abandonment I've suffered.
However, forgiveness does do the following:
1. Forgiveness provides me with freedom from the bondage of victimization.
2. Forgiveness erases the pain associated with my childhood memories.
3. Forgiveness graces my children with better parents than what I had.
4. Forgiveness blesses my children and my family's future generations with VICTORY.
If Father's Day and Mother's Day celebrations are less than perfect for you and your family, today, I encourage you to honor to your parents with a decision to forgive them. I recently heard a pastor say, that the Law of the Old Testament gives us the ability to recognize our sins. The Grace of the New Testament provides us with forgiveness for those sins. God's Grace enables me to forgive.