Family Walls: Honor Thy Father & Mother

~ for youth only ~ 

You, kid, you rule the planet. It’s true. You are in complete control. The weird part is that few of you comprehend your power. A typical kid feels like everyone else has control, (parents/coaches/teachers) and they are powerless. Let me fill you in on a secret. You have power. And you are using your power even if you are clueless to it.

A child of mine can walk into our home, throw a book bag to the floor, sigh, grunt and stomp off to their room with a slam of a door. . .and everyone else in the home reacts accordingly. We tiptoe, avoid, and sometimes hide. In contrast, the same child can enter our home, maybe force a half-second smile and answer any question (with more than one syllable) and others will change any agenda and sit with mouths open in undivided attention.

You have the potential to create chaos and I think you know it. But you also have the ability to erase chaos. It is shocking that most kids don’t see that second part.

For some, chaos in the home is extreme.  Walls of disappointment, hurt and pain are built brick by brick, one emotional injury after another. Brokenness is real. Families put up walls and stand on opposite sides justifying their distance. Walls can become horribly high and seem daunting and impossible to breach. But, the slightest effort to break an opening in the divide is worth it. Actually, taking bricks off the wall is easy. It’s wanting to that is hard.

           Yeah, parents need to do their part, but this isn’t for them: for kids only.

           We’ve got scripture back up. Yup, one of the major league 10 Commandments.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

At the risk of insulting your intelligence. . .honor’s definition means “to hold in high respect, have great esteem, to give glory to, pay tribute, offer kudos, give credit and share importance.”

And in case you stopped reading the Scripture after the word “mother,” the reason for this is not so that parents get something out of it. The reason is because you get something out of it.

Listen up. You can do something about the emotional walls in your home. Pay attention. This is your most important task. You probably think your most important agenda has something to do with sports or some other temporal goal. Relationships with your folks are forever. And it’s time to figure this out. It’s time for relational maturity, to grow up and do something about the wall that you helped to build. It went up one brick at a time and it comes down the same way.

Why? Why do you need to fix this? Because if you don’t there is a chance you will repeat it. Just imagine, someday you might have a child of your own and you’ll never imagine you could love anything or anybody more than you love your kid. You will hold your precious infant in your arms and pledge your unwavering devotion to your amazing, wonderful, beautiful child. You will pour your life into that kid. You will make major league sacrifices for that kid. You will try to protect that kid and shelter them from a crazy world. You will set boundaries that hopefully keep them from harm, and someday, your kid might act like they hate you for it. No matter how you try, your child might completely shut you out. They might say hurtful things to you, avoid you, yell at you, cuss at you. They might lie to you with a straight face. At the least, they will distort the truth just to keep you in the dark. They will value anyone’s opinion but yours. If you say “no” they say “yes.” If you say “do” they say “don’t.” And you, as a parent, will find yourself behind another wall. You will stand on your side, justify the distance, and feel powerless against the daunting distance between you and your precious child.

Alright. Let’s be clear. Bricks on walls are put up from each side. But just because you are a kid doesn’t mean you have no responsibility for masonry. You are not powerless. Quite the opposite, you rule your planet.

For those of you who are pleasers, there is a difference between avoiding conflict and honoring your parents. One avoids conflict to spare one’s self anxiety. It’s selfishly motivated much of the time. One honors another in order to lift others up. The goal of honor is the benefit it provides for your folks, not the conflict you avoid for yourself.

For those of you who are challengers, know that finding independence does not mean you are not dependent, physically or emotionally. How much of your self-esteem is wrapped up in a desire for control? It is an interesting question for everybody, (including parents who are not reading this.) Take a good look at your relationship with your folks. See the places you have added bricks to the wall(s) in your home. Now, what are you doing to do about it?

Try one thing, one simple thing to take off just one brick. Hug your dad and make him let go first. Kiss your mom on the cheek as you say “thanks” for dinner. While standing beside your dad and one of your friends, tell your pal how awesome your dad is. . .just loud enough so that your father hears your compliment. Tell your mom how beautiful she looks and/or how smart she is.

One brick at a time. Ask your dad’s opinion about absolutely anything. Ask your mom to tell you about her experience with falling in love. Ask either parent about the events of their day. “What is awesome about your job and what sucks the life out of you?”

One brick at a time. Follow simple directions. Texting where you are does not diminish your independence. It builds trust. And you probably need to earn a few trust points. Sure, do your chores. Being in a family demands shared tasks. If you don’t think you should have chores, well, you are spoiled. Consider doing something crazy. After you finish your chores, do one of your mom’s (unannounced and unrecorded.) Make her wonder who did it. Make her talk to your dad about it.

One brick at a time. Choose to be in their presence when they don’t expect it. Offer to go along on errands like grab carry-out dinner or push the cart on a grocery store run. Suggest you tag along on a gas station fill-up and offer to run the pump. Stand in the kitchen and help with dinner. Simply adjust 10 minutes of your time to breath in the same air space as your folks with no agenda in mind.

One brick at a time. With nothing but sincerity tell your dad you love him. It doesn’t matter if he has never said it to you. If you can’t say it, write it. He will keep that note for the rest of his life. I’m not wrong about this. You are the precious child your parents once held in their arms. They love you deeply and deserve to be told you value, appreciate and love them.

One brick at a time. Tell your mom when you are afraid and ask her what she does when she is afraid. Or share a moment when you emotionally crumbled and totally devalued yourself and ask your mom if she has ever felt that way.

One brick at a time. Pick up your chin, actually make positive eye contact. Smile when you see them. Think back to kindergarten when your relationship was easier. Blow a kiss. Hug aggressively. Use the same good manners you use on everybody else except your parents.

One brick at a time. Tell them you need 30 seconds of important time. When they are staring at you and weirded out that you have made such a bizarre request. . .give them a heartfelt apology for anything you have done to build the wall. “I’m sorry, dad, for disrespect, sarcasm, hurtful comments, disobeying your expectations, stealing. . .whatever.” “I’m really sorry, mom, for avoiding, pitching a fit, the volume of my voice, lying, cheating, attitude. . .whatever.” Then before you leave the room, consider suggesting that you are going to work harder on things.

It’s time to do something about the walls in your home. Stop being lazy. Stop the whole “it’s not fair” routine that circles in your head. Accept responsibility for the quality of the relationships in your home and actually make a plan and put it into place. You are not powerless. You can alter the dynamics of your home. It’s not a question of opportunity. It’s just a question of wanting to.

If you want this you can do this. The result will be a blessing to your parents. They will be honored as Exodus 20:12 commands. But the cooler part is the blessing you will receive in the second half of the text. “Your days may be blessed in the home that the Lord your God is giving you.”

In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.

What’s important to you? What really matters?

Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.

Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.

That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.

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