Since Day One, pretty much everybody has been told to obey their parents. I don’t think most people take this saying to heart these days; it’s just another piece of life advice that you hear all the time, such as, “Do Your Homework,” or “Go To College To Get a Good Job.” We’ve all heard these phrases so many times that it just goes in one ear and out the other... and that was exactly what I did. As I entered into my teenage years (which was not a good phase for me), I fought so much with my mom that I thought I had completely destroyed my relationship with her, and it broke my heart. So what I’m trying to say is that in the long run, or the short run, or in any run for that matter, having a good relationship with your parents is essential and completely worth it.
I remember always hearing that we need to get along with our parents in order to be successful in life. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1) No explanation?
In the past year, my relationship with my mom has grown tremendously, and I feel that we are closer than ever. With God’s grace, we were able to forgive each other and move past our nightmare of a relationship. Through trial and error, I have come to realize that I was the one who was unloving and not understanding. I’ve also learned ways to keep our relationship healthy and strong.
1. Have Grace
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in our own thoughts and ideas. We always want to be right, and when we are wrong, we would rather do Crossfit for 24 hours straight than admit that we were wrong. I found this to be exceptionally true when it came to my mom and me. It didn't help that I was also a stubborn, strong-willed person. For most, it seemed that parents called all the shots until adulthood, and I hated that. Should they get to tell me what to do all the time just because they're my parents? Actually, yes. The Bible tells us to honor our father and mother, which is akin to demonstrating obedience to and love for God. I could have prevented so many fights if I had just listened to what they had to say. I didn't always like it, but in the end our parents (usually) do know what's best and want that for us. Even if you're 95% that they're wrong, just let it go and save it for another time… Give them a break. They're doing everything they can. Just like us, they're human too.
2. Reach Out
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be heal.” (James 5:16)
Disagreements are bound to happen, and with disagreements usually come arguments. My mom and I used to argue for hours and it would just end in us ignoring each other and hurting each other even more. I refused to go to her first because I thought it would mean that I was wrong. I hated apologizing or taking the initiative to admitting my wrongs, even when I felt like I was right. I wasted so much time by letting my teenage ego get the best of me, so much that I would rather claim victory over a little thing than be on speaking terms with my mom. Regardless of the situation, if you have something on your mind that needs to be said, then go up to your parents and just reach out. Have someone else there to keep things calm if you need to. We forget so often that our parents have feelings too, and we forget what they have been through that we refuse to humble ourselves. When we leave our ego at the door, that is when we can come to our parents with an open mind and have a productive discussion.
“Whenever you stand praying,
I think forgiveness is so, so, so important. Our parents should be one of the most important people in our lives, and I find that the closer I am to somebody, the more capable they are of hurting me. I was hurt so much during those three years with my mom. I became numb and forgot how to feel anything. It was so much easier that way. I didn't want to forgive her every time she hurt me, and I knew that each time was not necessarily intentional. Parents do hurt us whether they mean to or not. However, neither of you should dwell on those things, nor should you let them define your relationship with each other. If it's too hard for you to talk about it, then try writing a list of the most hurtful things they've done, then burn it or rip it up. Forgive them.
4. Ask God For Help
"For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Never be afraid to ask God for help. He loves forgiveness, and He loves when we are honoring our parents. Having a bad relationship with my mom was traumatic for me, and at times it was so much easier to be mad at God for letting this happen. But if we always take the easy way out, then we’re never going to get to where we want to be. We need to trust that He will show up! If I hadn’t asked God for help, then I honestly don't even know if I would have a relationship with my mom anymore. I prayed and prayed to God for help in our relationship, and He did show up. Looking back, it's incredibly crazy how far we've come from the place that we were in, and I can't think of any way that it would have been possible if it hadn't been for God’s grace.
5. Honor Your Parents
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
Our parents love us, so it only makes sense that they get mad when we do stupid things and don’t listen to them. Have you ever just taken a moment to think about how much they love you though? Think of all the trouble you may have caused, or the bad grades you've made, or anything that has made them mad. Now think about the fact that they are still unconditionally taking care of you and doing everything they can to help you be successful and happy in life. We don't agree with their decisions all the time, but we should still obey them to show our respect for what they do. Let go of your pride, humble yourself, and listen. They do so much for us, yet we take it for granted. It's time to change all that; be a blessing to your parents and serve them instead. Telling them you love them everyday may not seem like a big deal to you, but it brightens their hearts to know that we love them because of how much we realize their love for us.
6. Look At Their Heart
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Most of us are blessed with parents who love us and would sacrifice their world for us. They just may not know how to communicate it to you the way you need them too. Think about the five love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of services, and gifts. Which one best suits the way your parents show their affection for you? The quicker you figure this out, the easier it is to relate to your parents and understand exactly how much they do love you.
7. Never Give Up.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
I know that's a cheesy thing to say, and we hear it all the time but really… never give up. I had to hit rock bottom to realize how important my mom is to me and how I would be torn to pieces if I hadn't been able to salvage our relationship though the strength of God. In the end, building AND maintaining a relationship takes both time and effort. These things certainly won't come easy, and they DEFINITELY won't happen in a week (or for that matter, a month). For me, it took a while for me to come to terms with myself, understand where my mom was coming from, and finally reach out to her. But one thing remained constant throughout this process, and that was the fact that I persevered and trusted in the Lord.
Now that you know the basics, a disclaimer: I wouldn't say that it's been all smooth sailing since then. I still have my fair share of battles and misunderstandings, but it's all different now. Sure, I'll have those old feelings of resentment for a little bit, but I genuinely feel like God has changed my heart. I feel like He is helping me see and understand my mom for who she is, and seeing how far we've come since the beginning, I couldn't be any happier.