Most Christians agree that we should honor our parents. For this is discussed in numerous places in the Bible. For my husband and I this concept comes up often. For we come from 2 different culture that the definition of honoring our parents is very different. For my husband and I we do not wrestle with whether we should honor our parents rather we wrestle with what is the definition of honoring. For the Chinese definition of honoring parents and the American definition of honoring parents is very different.
For us there has never been a straight forward answer for every situation. Rather it is something we often battle with and the answer changes based on the particular situation. What we are developing is the idea that honoring your parents means to always act in love, respect and try to creat a situation that is most healthy for both sides. There have been times we have set boundaries between our parents because the alternative was causing harm to one or both sides. Similarly there have been times we have cut down boundaries because it was mutually beneficial for both sides. For at the end of the day both sets of our parents want us to be happy, healthy and have a good life. We too want the same for them.
If both sides want the same thing why do we ever encounter conflicts? Well what our parents think will make us happy and healthy is not necessarily the same thing that God is leading us to. Similarly following God sometimes brings joy but not necessarily ease all the time. We are called to follow God, make him first, furthermore leave our father and mother to be joined to our spouse, yet still honor our parents. Wow that’s a lot to navigate! And believe me my husband and I are far from perfect.
For my husband and I praying through a situation is what allows us to navigate all this complexity. I truly believe God gives us the mandate to honor our parents because it is a way of teaching us how to love and respect someone even when it is not easy. For I have never meet a couple that did not have some trouble navigating parents. For me in particular I have a little of a non traditional relationship with my parents. I often set boundaries with them out of self protection but also because I truly believe they love me and want what is best for me. Sometime separation is best for both sides and I look forward to heaven when we will be rejoined without all the baggage we carry on this earth that leads to separation. For me it has been the act of my parents letting go of me and financially supporting my education that has shown me how much they truly love me despite our differences.
My husband on the other hand is an only child and has a very close relationship with his parents. Although they do not agree with everything we believe and think they are always willing to work through our differences. So it takes work but it is through that working through difference I see the fruit of the spirit in both our hearts and theirs. Similarly we have come to understand that my husbands parents serve as a form of a test, for we do not think God would call us to something that does not also allow us to help provide for their basic needs. God has been faithful thus far in taking care of my husbands parents basic needs with little assistance from us. This blessing from God has and is allowing us to look outside of our own little family to serve others. May God continue to lead and provide for our family. For he is a God of miracles and I truly believe our little family is evidence. Amen.