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31 Lessons in 31 Years : Honor Your Parents

Day 2:

Find a way to Honor Your Parents

A few years ago my mom handed me college ruled lines of paper on a clip board.  Inwardly I groaned as I wondered what I would be reading over.
I sat at my parent's kitchen table and read over the few pages of neatly printed memories.
My mom had written three or four pages of memories about her mother.
Reading it was a bit strange for me.
Strange because it was all positive. All of it.  Not one negative observation or memory was written.
I was a bit taken back.  This wasn't the way I ever perceived my mother's childhood or ever saw my grandmother.
There were mentions of certain dishes my grandmother cooked, things that were in her home, and special things she did at Christmas. Traditions she kept, pies she baked, and household chores she did.
Growing up in a poor home my mother wrote with thankfulness about the coloring books and crayons she received every Christmas and the meals her mother made on Friday nights for the family.  They were different than their normal farm to table vegetable based meals.
All of this was strange because I had known my mother to be at odds with my grandmother for all of my life.  I didn't know my grandmother as a kind, loving woman.  I knew her as a bitter woman who had weathered much of life and didn't have too much good to say to anyone.  I knew her as someone who could deeply cut with her tongue and I most knew her as the woman who had wrecked my own mother's sense of identity and self esteem.  I had watched all of my life as my mom had sought her mother's acceptance, approval, and love but never quite got it.  There would be a few good days and a seemingly marathon of bad conversations and volatile verbal fights. I cannot even remember how many times I watched my mother slam the phone down hurt and angry at the conclusion of a phone call with her own mother.
It always hurt me.  It deeply troubled me that my grandmother didn't seem to love my mother.
Perhaps she loved her, but she seemed incapable of ever showing it. And I knew as a child that my mom hungered for this love and approval so much.

As I read this list of generous descriptions of things about my grandmother, my mom seemed eager for me to know. Eager for me to read it.  The smile on my mom's face and the sheer fact that she had compiled such a list surprised me.  She went on to tell me that she felt compelled to write a list of all the ways her mother had taken care of them physically.  Everything even if it seemed small or insignificant.  My mother was making a willful decision to honor the good and not even mention the painful bad.
My mom was trying to honor her mother.
I think my mom mailed this list of things to her mother.  I have no clue of the response she got.
I've always wanted my grandmother to give her blessing and love sincerely and verbally to my mother.  To hug her and whisper these five words to her, " I am proud of you." I know my mom's little girl heart would soar.
So now I tell my mom every time I hug her, "I am proud of you."  And I am.  Sometimes and many times my mom and I have had contentious and loud moments.  We have cycles of not getting along. But that doesn't keep me from wanting desperately for her to know that she is loved and she is to be proud of.
I was proud of my mom that day that she gave me the list.  A list she labored over to remember and purposefully showered her mother and childhood with grace as she searched for and recorded every nice thing she could think of about her mother.  She was a woman in her fifties honoring her mother no matter the painful past or the future reaction.
That impression has stayed with me.  The idea of honoring the good that happened in the past and in my parents. Yes, to deal with hurts and create healthy boundaries, but to honor the good.  It's healing.  And it is what we are supposed to do.   I've felt convicted many times for the ways I have dishonored my parents over the years after frustrating falling outs we have had.  Yet somehow we always make up and mend.
I think our parents can wound us more deeply than almost anyone else.  Because we came from within them.  Their DNA is forever stamped within us and we get our perspective of life from the view they gave us.  Yet we can bless them and honor them no matter what.  We honor God when we choose to.  


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