Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Honoring Abusive Parents

Mother's Day and Father's Day are approaching and for many these are not comfortable times or holidays that produce a desire to celebrate. Maybe this article will give you some ideas on how to handle this and still do what God says.

How You Can Honor An Abusive Parent
by April Lorier at God's Girl

Today I am thinking about my own mother. Recent circumstances have caused me to look to the past and to our relationship. It was not an easy relationship. She was, after all, an abusive and self-centered mother, thanks, in large part, to her own upbringing.

I wanted to be God-honoring, but it was so difficult, especially as many of my wounds had not yet healed. Nevertheless, I prayed God would help me think of ways to honor her as the mother He gave me. I wanted to be able to do it without allowing her to steal me from myself. Those who have been through child abuse that lingered into adulthood will understand what I mean. I didn't know where she ended and I began, so I had to keep my boundaries intact and not allow them to be trampled.

Mother's Day was always the worst "holiday" of the year for me. I would read cards, trying to find one that fit our relationship.

"You have always been there for me." Huh? No.
"Thank you for always listening to me." No.
"A mother is a gift from God forever." No, I didn't feel that at all.
"A mother sacrifices for her baby." No, definitely not.
"Thank you for your love." No, I never felt her love.
"To the one who knows me better than anyone." No, she didn't know me at all.
"I know I can always go to you for comfort and direction." Absolutely not.
"Oh, the wonderful memories I have of you." Oh, no way!
"To the woman I cherish because she cherishes me." Not applicable at all.

What was I to do? She was a woman of pride - not always healthy pride, either. She would definitely be humiliated when the other mothers at church asked her what her daughter sent her for Mother's Day. It would not be God-honoring to embarrass her like that.

Only a few years before I had begun to tithe to her (instead of to my church) because God had impressed upon me through His Word that I should not be like the Pharisees who made a big show out of bringing their tithes into the Temple, while they had needy relatives who were not being taken care of. Jesus called them a "brood of vipers"! So I had already settle that issue. But to not send her a card on Mother's Day? That would be flat-out mean.

I have always taken great value in the value of words. I wouldnever buy a card with words written that I could not mean. So, what to do?

Card-making programs had just come on the market, so I purchased one and learned how to use it. I scanned photos I knew she would love - like photos of my sister and I when we were babies, or photos of her own parents which I had learned to reconstruct in Adobe Photoshop version 3! (I said it was a long time ago.) I spent 2 months on a photo of her father that was burned on metal! Not any kind of photo paper, but metal! Now that's ancient! When I finished, it looked like it was taken the day before.

I bought photo paper and made the cards frameable. I knew she would treasure these photos!

Some times, I photographed animals - she was an animal lover, especially cats - and then I wrote funny verses to make her laugh. (She loved to laugh and had a great sense of humor.) Bit by bit, God showed me how to make her something that she could show to other mothers and grandmothers and be proud of. I was honoring her without being dishonest. It was very important to me, not to be disingenuous.

Years later, when she was killed, I was so grateful I had not dishonored her! Oh, what a gift I had allowed God to give me: no guilt! And He more than repaid me, which I have written about extensively in my latest book.

Bottom line? If you really want to honor your parents, God will help you find creative ways to do so. There's a promise that goes with that command: That your days may be long and prosperous. And they have been.

Exodus 20:12: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you."

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