Honoring a Parent that’s Not Always Honorable

So, you know how you are going about life and Holy Spirit sends a word (one you are not expecting) and your heart feels that tug of conviction? Pastor Robert Morris was teaching on the Ten Commandments and he landed on number five, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” He didn’t get very far into his message when I realized that I didn’t need to listen to Pastor Morris, Holy Spirit wanted to do some preaching to my heart

How in the sam hill (southern saying for something that seems impossible) do you honor a parent that does not always act honorable? Let me put my self-righteous hat on (you know, that one that fits so well) because I tend to have a smidgen of pride in this area. My dear ole Dad (as he called himself) was less than honorable in several ways. Our difficult history together runs painfully deep and wide at different points in our relationship. Yet, I became his care giver and his medical advocate for many years before his death. I don’t think anyone would have fought harder for his life than I did. 

Putting aside our difficulties, I tried my best to make sure he had the best of care. Even with him working against me some of the way, we trudged on. So, why would I be convicted? 

Honoring our parents has so many facets. Gosh, so many.

The facet I am talking with you about today is speaking well of them – while they are alive and after they have left this world. I have been guilty of retelling some of the ugly part of his story to folks when there was no good reason. Ugh, this makes my heart ache. Is that honor? 

I’m not talking about deception. There are some behaviors that my Dad exhibited that I cannot speak well of. So, there you go. Wasn’t it Thumper who said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”?

What to do? The Bible has a lot to say about our speech. Here are a few that stung my heart and made me look at them in the light of honor:

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 ESV

You will say the wrong thing if you talk too much—so be sensible and watch what you say. Proverbs 10:19 CEV

My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. James 3:9 CEV

When I’m gone from this world, I don’t want included in my every mention something I did wrong. You know how when the media mentions a celebrity and classifies them by their biggest scandal? Geez, can we stop that?

Forgiveness of our less than honorable parents includes the willingness to give up telling the world their imperfections and wrong doings when it really has no positive value. It only stirs up our hearts to anger and disappointment all over again. We don’t need that. If we need a counselor to talk with and tell the ugly to, then let’s get one. Let’s get it told and work through the pain and then, for our own emotional, spiritual, and physical health, speak life. Let’s live life and grab hold of that promise from the Ten Commandments, “… that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Coaching Tip

Ask God to help you see positive traits in your parents – especially the parent/parents who seem to have only negative ones. Each night for five nights, write down one positive. They are there. We need Holy Spirit guided eyes to uncover them.

Lord, help us see the positive traits of our Mom and/or Dad. Our pain has hidden the good. We only see the bad. Open our eyes that we may see them as You do. When our relationships are able to be restored, please restore. When no healthy relationship is possible, please help us to place boundaries were needed but also help us understand how to honor them and bring You glory. In the name of our Peace Giver, Jesus, we ask these things. Amen

Linking with Holley Gerth 


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  1. Carmen, great, practical thoughts today. “When I’m gone from this world, I don’t want included in my every mention something I did wrong.” I avoided talking about the painful parts of my past until my husband told me those gave my story power. As you said, unless it brings value. It takes wisdom to know when and what to share and when to be quiet. For me it seems to be the opposite of what my flesh wants! :-) When I want to dump, I may need to be quiet. I love the idea of writing down a positive trait each night for a while.

    1. Debbie you have given great advice, “When I want to dump, I may need to be quiet.” That’s good stuff, right there.

      So glad you stopped by. Blessings on your time with God and writing down those positives!

  2. Carmen, I had really good parents that took care of me and so many others that they didn’t birth. I had no reason in the world to dishonor them but I did on so many occasions…. I didn’t dishonor them by talking about their faults because I didn’t think they had any…I dis honored them by some of the things I did…even though I was a church girl…I didn’t always do the things they taught me….My daddy always told me that beyond love the only thing he could give me was his name and to take care of it because we are known by our name. I am so grateful for the love a parent can give. Sometimes we are hurt so bad by someone that the only relief we have is to talk about it. You are a wonderful daughter…You did what you knew was right…what was good….. Thank you for this Word today….