Dcn. Dale Matson
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you”(Deuteronomy 5:16). This is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. St. Paul restates this commandment in Chapter 6 of Ephesians. “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 the earth.’ “He also notes that it contains a promise.
What if I don’t honor my parents? What if they don’t deserve being honored? What then? These are questions many individuals would ask concerning their parents. “My parents were terrible and abusive”, some might say. Some have raised their children using their parents as reverse role models. Parents who were uninvolved also find that their children can’t find the time for them when they grow up. The late Harry Chapin wrote an excellent song (1974) about this called “Cat’s in the Cradle”. A line from the song states, “I've long since retired and my son's moved away. I called him up just the other day. I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
At age fifty it became evident to me that my parents would always be with me. Even after they passed on, they would still be inside my head as models for me in relating to my sons. At that time they were still living. Was I honoring them? No, I was still filled with resentment about my treatment from an emotionally distant father and angry about an alcoholic mother suffering from depression. Was it going well with me? No, many of my relationships were contaminated with the same resentment and anger I had toward my parents. My relationship with my sons was distant at best and oppositional at worst.
It was time to make peace with my parents. I knew that was what I needed to do and began writing letters and calling them on the phone. It was as if God had prepared their hearts for this reaching out on my part. Things went well and my dad actually wrote me two letters. The first one ended “Sincerely” but the second one ended “Love Dad”. Sometimes the feeling have to follow the actions. We know what we need to do before we are willing to do it. Once the will to love is there, that is what unlocks the good memories held captive for so many years. My parents are with the Lord now and inside my head and heart. We are all finally at peace and yes, things are going very well. My sons and I are closer now than ever because I’m at peace with my parents.