by Jessamyn Rains
We live in a culture where elders are not particularly valued for their wisdom and experience. Too often, they are dismissed as quaint and irrelevant, with outdated ideas and values. In our churches, workplaces, and lives, we are often segregated by age, with deep cultural chasms between generations.
It’s easy to look at those who have preceded us and see all the mistakes they have made. It is easy to think we can do better: that we have superior wisdom, information, and morality, and that we will do a better job raising our children than our forebears.
Too often, we reinvent the wheel, generation after generation–in ever weirder shapes–only to realize after all our labor that we have misplaced some wisdom along the way.
To save us much toil and suffering, God has commanded us to honor our parents. Surely God knew when He created this command that our parents would be sinful at times, would be mistaken at times, would have incomplete knowledge and even imperfect love.
And yet, if we focus on the deficits of those who have come before us, we run the risk of missing all that they have to teach us.
Maybe our parents didn’t love us in all the ways we wanted to be loved. But then again, maybe they loved us more than we realize.
To begin to honor our parents sincerely and from the heart, we can train ourselves to see the good things they have given us. What skills have we learned from them? What knowledge of God? What knowledge of the world? What practical wisdom? What spiritual wisdom? Did they teach us to see or to create beauty? How have they taught us to love? In what ways have they given of themselves–sacrificed their time, their lives, their dreams and aspirations? Do we value these gifts, this wisdom, these examples of love and care? If we treasure these things–if we honor our parents and take heed to the lessons they have taught us–their instruction, in turn, will be a source of honor for ourselves.
Like family heirlooms, our parents’ gifts and wisdom will beautify and ennoble our lives and the lives of our children for generations to come.