There are seasons of life. There are people who go through the same season like us, there are also some who face different season than us. Among the crowd, I observed that there were some teenagers who were hanging out with their peers, some were young parents with their babies, some were families who were looking for a place to have a lunch, and so on. They are in completely different ages and seasons of life which later on lead to different priorities. For teenagers, their social life might mean the whole world. Their friends are everything. Hanging out with friends can make them feel cool and secure. For young parents, their babies are the attention grabber of their new life. They can’t do whatever they want without being interrupted by the babies’ needs. What about my world? Well, my role now in my home is as a young adult daughter with parents. It is quite challenging when we are in the age that society defines us as mature while we still need to submit to authority of our parents at many points in our lives. The culture I live in has a normal standard that a daughter lives their parents only when she gets married. Living alone when you haven’t got married for our typical parents can be regarded as dangerous. Moreover when our generation’s purity standard is in pitifully rate. So in sum, I feel stuck. I feel like I can’t be free as I supposed to be on my age. I can’t have a place to stay on my own, I can’t fully decide everything major without permission from parents. To ignore their prohibitions will be regarded as an act of disrespect according to them. But my view has changed when one incident came into my life … and here I want to share what I find regarding obedience to parents.
Parents … can be real enemy but can also be our true friends. It can be real enemy because they are mostly opposed your wants and current values in many areas of life. They are the one who can say, “No!” when everybody surrounds us shout, “Yes!” They are those who loves us but sometimes cannot express it the way it should be. Well, parents are still human you know.. In my culture, parents who can say, “I love you,” everyday to their children are completely rare. They perhaps express their love on their provision of daily needs and protection. Please do highlight the word “protection” before! The willingness to protect us can be actualized in the forms of prohibitions, rules, and restraints. If you are young, you know that way is totally ineffective. More rules will only make young people get more rebellious either in their hearts or actions. So, conflict between parents and children are totally unavoidable. There will always be difference of points of view, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and so on. Our language of love may be different from theirs. But on the opposite sites, parents are totally our true friends. Why do I think so? It’s because they are those who will be on our side even when the whole world leave us out. They will always be there in our toughest moments of life. Friends do come and go, but parents … will always forever be parents. They stick with us no matter what.
Apart from understanding this, I still find myself struggling with submission at times. Love … seems natural for parents to children. But for children to love parents? It takes what I call: REAL MATURITY! We can see that we are accustomed to receive since we were being born to this earth. We receive milk, food, education, compassion, attention, gifts, and uncountable things to be mentioned. It would be unnatural for us to love because love demands us to take position as a giver unconditionally. That unconditional part sounds hard, does it? Parents’ love are unconditional. They love us no matter what.. simply because we are their flesh and blood, their children. Keep a note that ‘love’ does not always go along with ‘like’. There are a lot of our characters and behaviours which they may don’t like. But no matter how many they are, they don’t change our parents’ love to us. That’s how amazing their love is! They can tell out the world about all your weakness and even pissed off with you, but at the same time they also can’t stop thinking and worrying about you [Okay, I do realise that not all parents are the same. But what I convey here is the truth in general which I see through my very own eyes :D) Back to my main point, so how can we love our parents unconditionally? And how can we submit to them more easily?
The first fact we need to establish here is acknowledging that we are not love ‘producers’. Only God, who is love (1 John 4:8), can produce the wellspring of love within us. It takes us to catch His heart regarding honoring and obeying our parents and let Him work within us to will to do so. Realise that love is a decision, not a feeling. Like is a feeling. Love is the compassion you decide to give no matter how you feel. And that’s lift up love to entirely a higher standard! It is completely a decision to keep caring and loving no matter they ‘deserve’ it or not. I have learned that it is through loving the things I don’t like is where my character grows. When my parents asked me to do things I dislike, it takes a decision to obey as an expression of love to them. Since I was not a very good girl back then in this area of obedience, it is common that I am still treated as a disobedient girl most of the time. Parents can say many discouraging words that do not motivate us to express love further. I used to be discouraged because of such response. But as I grow now, I know that it should never hinder my very intention to express love to them.
What we don’t realise is, parents’ hearts have many pains caused by others in this world. It is not easy for them to receive love as love and be gratitude because of it instantly. For some, it takes continuous actions of love for years to make them believe that they are loved. Now we get into very important point here: our love is not love until the receiver feels loved. We may argue that we have done this and that but unless our receiver of love feels loved, that means nothing. It really takes … patience to be a lover.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” – 1 Corintians 13:4[NIV]
In its origin language, “love” here is using the word “agapao” which is the highest form of love from God to men. Unconditional and sacrificial love. And it becomes more interesting when “patient” in its original language is “makrothumeo” which means long-suffering, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, offenses and injuries of others, not to lose heart, slow to anger, slow to punish. A double WOW! Love is not that simple. Even the word ‘patient’ lost its deep significance to describe what love really is. Love is a gift that can only be given by a real mature person.
As now I am growing as a young adult, I need to lift up my standard in my relationship with my parents. It is no longer about me as a spoil little princess who receive anything she wants and demanding love and attention from them, but me as young adult seeks to love, honor, respect, and serve them as my gratitude for raising me up this far. It’s not an obligation, but the way to express my gratitude to them. And through the ups and downs in my journey of learning to love my parents, I have learned that parents do feel loved the most when they feel respected. Respect is being actualised through obedience. Of course, it doesn’t make us to be like a robot who needs to do everything they want, but it is very very very (when I repeat it three times it means verrryy important) important to convey our opinions in respectable manner and neutral tone. Through my experience, it really sadden them a lot when you speak rudely to them.
We will never can feel how hard it is being a mom/dad before being one. But trying to feel what it’s like on their shoes will help us a lot to change our attitude to them. Rules and restrictions they give can be translated as, “I am worrying about you when you do this and that..” So we need to ensure that worry-producer factor is being resolved. For example, when parents say, “You are not allowed to come home above 10 pm!” They are actually worrying about many crimes during late night especially when you are a girl and alone outside. They will feel safer when you go home earlier. Respect their feelings. Go home earlier will not make an end to our world anyway 🙂 Our friends, if they are really good, will understand about that. For every restriction, there will always be a reason behind it. They may not able to communicate it clearly, but try to understand even it doesn’t make sense to our logic. It takes faith to obey your parents just like it takes faith to obey our God. We have to believe first that they will always think for our own good. If they have to change their mind, trust that God will do it in His time. It is never our job to change them. Our job is to provide a safe environment to allow the required changes to happen through continuous love and respect.
Last but not least, for me, parents are blessings in disguise from the Lord. There are so many blessings hidden behind their words and actions that we may don’t like. We can only receive those blessings when we walk in obedience and faith day by day. There are so many things that I am glad I obeyed my parents back then and it protected me from unnecessary hurts. God has given our parents for a reason. Embrace them the way they are as they have embraced you since you were in the womb.
The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.”
“Wise children take their parents’ advice, but whoever makes fun of wisdom won’t listen to correction.”
Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography