How to honor a Mother that is dishonorable

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I know. That sounds odd. But let’s face it, not all mothers are Donna Reed, Claire Huxtable, or June Cleaver. Some could only dream about being as good as Roseanne. It’s a sad state we are in. While many mothers are working hard to raise their children to be respected citizens of society, there are many that have shirked their duties and have opted to break that mother/child bond. When it comes to Mother’s Day, how do you reconcile honoring a mother that has done nothing to merit that honor? I’m not talking about a mother who didn’t let you have soda for dinner, or made you eat your brussels sprouts, or made you take a bath. I’m talking about those mothers who are narcissistic or hateful or abusive. How do you honor them?

This really is a hard subject. Mother’s Day is hard for many. Some aren’t a mother, I’ve been there. Some don’t have good relationships with their mothers, and I’ve been there, too. So not everyone enjoys a Hallmark moment on Mother’s Day. Today we’ll deal with the strained mother relationship. The Bible clearly commands, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20: 12) It’s one of the 10 commandments. How do you get around that? “But, God, you know my mother. Surely you will exempt me from this commandment!” The answer is “no.” We won’t be exempt.

My husband once told me (Forget that. He’s told me this many, many, MANY times), “You cannot control how others act toward you, but you can control how you respond.”  I have enough to answer for without having to answer for everyone else. (Whew! Thank goodness!) I tell my girls, “You don’t have to answer for how your sister treats you, you DO have to answer for how you treat your sister.” So the best thing (and biblical thing) to do is to apply the same principle.

The Bible says in Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” God wants us to do our part in keeping relationships. Even if you don’t agree with them. Even if they hurt you. Even if they take your parking space up front when it is raining. We are responsible for our actions. Ephesians says “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) This goes for all our relationships. So no matter what my mother does or says to me, I need the right attitude.

Maybe you are in a situation where the relationship is so strained you don’t speak. Or she wouldn’t speak to you if you tried. This is where, I believe, it is all about my attitude. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking and be forgiving in your heart. If you can forgive her, there may be a time of restoration, and you’ll be ready for it. Maybe there won’t be restoration. If not, then you can meet your Saviour with a clear conscience that you did your part. He will only hold you accountable for your actions and thoughts. It’s not enough to not talk about it. The psalmist said in Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” God knows our thoughts. If you harbor bitterness, He’ll know. Besides “what’s in the well always comes up in the bucket.” If you have bitterness and anger on the inside, it will eventually manifest itself. Psalm 37:8 states, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” We often want to get the upper hand. God says don’t. If we cease anger and forsake wrath, we won’t desire to do evil. “Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) My favorite verse in the last couple years has been Exodus 14:14. “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Yay! God, the creator of the world, the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the God of angel armies, will fight for me. And He’ll do much better than I.

In Matthew 5, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is telling his disciples it’s not hard to love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. Anyone can do that. Even the natural man. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44) The best thing you can do for your situation is pray. Do you know how hard it is to stay angry at someone for whom you are diligently praying? Praying blessings over them. I also think we should be thankful for the good memories. Satan wants you to dwell on the bad. That’s how he keeps the vicious cycle of bitterness and anger going. You dwell on the bad, nurse those hurts, and replay the moments over and over again in your mind. Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are  lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

You also don’t have to repeat the type of upbringing you had. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” Yes!! As a believer in Christ I can be different. In fact, I SHOULD be different. God knows that a mother’s gentle love is not automatic. In Titus 2 the older woman are instructed to teach the younger women to love their children. Some of us can’t imagine NOT loving our children. But God knew it would not always be the natural response. He made provisions for those sweet older ladies to instruct the younger woman. Teach them what is important and what isn’t. Remind them the days are long, but the years are short. Encourage them to let their little princesses walk out of the house in mismatched clothing because they picked it out themselves and are proud of that feat. Instill Godly character in their children.  Teach them to set the dishes aside and play Candyland, or legos, or superheroes. Put the laundry down and have a tea party. Love them. Unconditionally.

So remember, God will not hold you accountable for how your mother treats you. Your mother will have to answer for that. But you will give an account for your actions, your words, and your thoughts. Choose to live in joy. Choose to live with a forgiving spirit. Be an example and an encouragement to others. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works (or attitude), and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (parenthesis mine).

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