“Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22).
Could we be guilty of despising our parents?
The word translated “despise” is listed as Strong’s H936. It means “hold in contempt, hold as insignificant.”
“Hold as insignificant.” That phrase took me aback. I had to ask myself if I had been guilty of treating my mother as if she were not a significant part of my life instead of letting her know she was of great value.
If you are harboring resentment for a less-than-perfect childhood, learn to give it all to your Father in heaven and realize our parents were handicapped by the childhood they had too.
Psychoanalysts want us to go back and look at our youth to unlock the problems of our adulthood. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but I am saying that it can be. Our society has fostered an attitude of holding others responsible for who we are. What about the forces that shaped them which were out of their control? Has that not been the case since the beginning with Adam and Eve?
I can see that I frequently treated my mother as if she were insignificant in the last years of her life. I did not heed the advice of the proverb (and did not even know it existed). I resented being neglected as a child and my brothers being given preferential treatment. I knew we were to honor our parents, but what does that mean? I tried to show honor through gifts, but I was reluctant to give of my time. I often felt belittled and attacked by things she would say, so I just stayed away. Now I wish I had made more of an effort.
She gave me a birthday card the year she died where she tried to express to me that she knew she had not been the perfect parent. I found out later she had spent a very long time selecting the perfect card to give me. I barely looked at it. A few months after she died, I read it and felt so much remorse for not going to her and saying I understood, because I have not been the perfect parent either. I made different mistakes, but they are equally worthy of resentment.
I always thought my mother had a very good childhood with two loving parents. They worked very hard and had little through the Depression, but otherwise I thought it had been pretty good. She never spoke ill of her parents. After I was an adult I found out her childhood had its issues too. My mother and her sisters had suffered from neglect were treated as though they were insignificant because they were females. My mother had to go against her dad’s wishes to be educated, because he saw no value in women having an education. She worked in the fields with her brothers and then had to cook and wait on them in the evening.
None of us get it right 100 percent of the time. That is why we need a Savior. That is why we need to be forgiven.
I visited her daily while she was ill and made an effort to let her know I cared, but it was a little too late.
My mother remained a faithful member of the Church to the end and was an example of prayer and Bible study. She spent many hours praying for others who were ill in the Church and genuinely cared for them all. She re-studied her church notes through the week and actively studied the Bible and Church literature. I should have celebrated the things she did right and ignored the ones that she didn’t, as I hope my children will do for me.
We have a Savior who never treats us as if we are insignificant. He values each and every one of us and forgives our many faults. He is right there at all times to listen when we take the time to speak. He gets it right 100 percent of the time. He does not have to apologize, because He always has our best interests in His heart. We must forgive others as He has forgiven us when we so clearly do not deserve it.
There is a reason why there had to be a proverb put in the Bible about not despising our parents when they are old. As a child it is hard to acknowledge we have less than perfect parents, but as an adult it is far too easy to shift blame to them for what is lacking in us.
We all want understanding that it has taken us a lifetime to get where we are, but we can be so critical of the ones who also have needed a lifetime to overcome the shortcomings of their parents.
If you are harboring resentment for a less-than-perfect childhood, learn to give it all to your Father in heaven and realize our parents were handicapped by the childhood they had too. I don’t think we need to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it was alright, but we need to forgive as we acknowledge that we are less than perfect as well.
Memorize the proverb: “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”