Last week's virtue from my devotional was Listening... Listening to Him, to His call, for His Spirit, to each other, with honor, and to life. Reading and praying on these topics was actually rather helpful for me. Each one brought a lot of ideas of posts, but time prevented me from sitting and writing. But then I read the one regarding listening with honor. I almost didn't make it through that one. It was only one page, like the others. And it was the same scripture (Proverbs 1:1-9) that a few of the others had been about. But they threw in one more Scripture reading - Exodus 20:12
This one verse has haunted me for years. It has been the one verse I've wanted stripped from the Bible all together.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
My parents used to quote this one verse quite often. They'd break pretty much every commandment, but then quote this one verse.
When I finally found the courage to tell someone what was going on - my pastor - he quoted this one verse.
I grew up being punched, kicked, called fat and good for nothing, being told I would never amount to anything. I was told my only chance was to be a whore - that's the closest thing I'd find to love. I was starved for a couple days at a time, drug out of bed by my hair at 2 am to be pushed down the stairs, thrown out of the house when I was ten in the middle of a Minnesota winter. I was forced to clean up my own vomit if I couldn't make it to the bathroom when I had the stomach flu. I was burned with cigarettes, and made to drink alcohol. I had my face slammed into walls, and heavy objects thrown at me.
And I'm supposed to honor these people!?!?
But, the devotional explained this in a rather interesting way - one I hadn't considered before. Our parents do teach us... even if they're bad parents. Good, godly parents, teach us how to live. By listening to them, and following them, we learn how to also be good, godly people. Bad, dangerous, ungodly parents? They also teach us how to live - or rather, how not to live. By listening to them we can still learn how to be good, godly people.
And, this is true. I can't hit my children, or in any way hurt them. I never tell them they're worthless. I encourage them in all they do, or want to do. I hate when people use their abuse as an excuse to abuse. Those who do that - they weren't listening. They were blindly following. But I listened - not just to what my parents did, as a way of seeing what not to do, but also to God and to how He wanted me to live. I am not a perfect parent. I'm not even close. But I did learn. More than I ever realized.
And, by learning to listen to parents like this, I learned how to listen to others - friends, family, coworkers, children, and even enemies. I learned to love others - all of these groups of "others."
"In our listening, we learn. But we also gain - a blessed garb of empowered honor." (God's Great Blessings, Patricia Raybon).