"Hey! That's me! That's me when I was just a babe!"
It's always fun looking through old photos, finding the people you know; but the most fun, of course, is finding yourself--that funny little babe with the round eyes that doesn't really look like you but was still, is still you.
(At least, for me; it's the only time in my life I could unabashedly claim to be cute, so of course I enjoy it.)
One thing I realized from looking through all those blurry photos was just how dependent and frail Baby Me was. It was a humbling reminder--no matter how independent, capable, savvy, well-groomed or educated I might think I was now, I had once been a chubby dumpling who only knew how to sleep and eat, who needed someone to feed me and bathe me and change my diapers and rock me to sleep and teach me to walk and cuddle me. It was a humbling reminder of how much my parents had been to me, as well as done for me.
And that's how it started me thinking about how my relationship with my parents has changed, evolved from then to now.
I find my generation seems to have a big problem with respecting our parents. Maybe we're just plain rude. Maybe we give them only as much--usually, less--respect as we give our peers. Maybe we ignore what they say or complain loudly about them to our friends or on Facebook. Maybe we make fun of them in front of other people, poke fun at their embarrassing moments or habits. Maybe we despise them for their faults and weaknesses, or the small 'unglam' things they do--"my dad wears socks pulled up his calves, even when he wears shorts!"
Oh, yes, we love them; and usually, if we profess to be Christians, we know we ought to respect them and obey them too. I'm not even going to quote Ephesians 6:1 because if you're like me, you're expecting it already; it's become sort of soldered to the phrase "Respect your parents".
But the truth is we don't respect them. We love them, in some way--I hope so--but there's a reason why the Ten Commandments use the word honour rather than just love. (Exodus 20:12) One can love without necessarily respecting, just as one can respect without necessarily loving. I know many people who certainly love their parents, but who don't always give them the respect they should. I'm one of them myself.
Because as we grow older, we naturally become more observant and more critical (and we start to care very much about image.) Things about our parents, which either never bothered us or never even noticed when we were kids, suddenly become glaringly obvious in our eyes; and glaringly important. Gradually we realize that they make mistakes, that they lose their tempers, that they do things they shouldn't, that they're human beings with flaws just like ourselves and everyone else in the world. Almost every child can find a 'calf-sock' issue of sorts about their parents. Gosh, I hate the way Mom starts stammering when she's excited...and I wish Dad wouldn't try to connect with my friends by cracking jokes he thinks are 'relevant to young people'...or wear such awful clothes...or insist on eating that disgusting combination...or nag so much...or have bad breath...or...or...
And the list goes on. We all have our own lists of disillusionment.
And it becomes so easy to start losing our respect for them. Maybe we even start despising them for their 'uncoolness', their forgetfulness or other faults which annoy us. Things they try to tell us automatically get filtered out of the priority inbox in our brain, based on the sender; if a friend or peer was to say the same thing we would probably sit up and listen.
But the Bible does not say "Respect your parents when they're cool and wise. If not cool or wise, you are licensed to skip this commandment and treat them as you think they deserve."
Parents are different. God gave them to us, whether we like it or not, for a reason. They were the ones who gave life to us; often the ones who gave us a home and brought us up, who cared for us and worried for us, who made sacrifices to change our diapers, who loved us as other people haven't and wouldn't. Their claim on us, as their children, is different from anyone else's.
Therefore, whether we feel they're smarter and better than us--or not--we should respect them.
What's more: on retrospect we're really not in any position to be deciding what and who is 'cool' and 'smart'. Seriously, if anything our parents' ideas on that topic should be the accepted standards, if only because of the fact that they've been around just how many decades longer than us. It's really a form of pride--a besetting sin that haunts all of us throughout our lives in different shapes.
Looking at those old photos, I suddenly saw how absurd it was that a chubby baby in a dirty diaper tells her dad, "Hey Dad, you should seriously stop wearing those ridiculous socks. They are like, so uncool?"
Honestly, what happened to us? If you knew the baby whose mouth you were wiping right now was ever going to say that to you one day--and roll her eyes in disgust--well, I think I would be only heart-broken. Not to mention angry.
Respecting our parents doesn't mean we live in denial of their mistakes, or are compelled to agree with everything they do. But besides loving them, we need to respect them; in fact, the older we (both) get, the more we should grow in loving and respecting them, because we should be gradually realizing more and more just how much they did for us, and how right they were.
(As a wise quote put it: "Listen to your elders not because they're always right, but because they've had more experience of being wrong.")
For your hard thing today: take a look at your relationship with your parents. How have you been disrespecting them? Your tone of voice? The way you respond to them, or listen to them? The way you talk about them to others, or take them for granted, or think about them? Watch out for the times you feel anything like contempt, disgust, impatience, or superiority towards your parents and you'll have a pretty good indicator.
This is one hard thing that you can start immediately, right now, the moment you reach the end of this sentence.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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