The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Honor your father and mother

"Fine, quit! See what happens," My mom said and slammed herself on the couch. It was her way of saying the argument was over. I was standing in the kitchen, arms crossed and lips tight, glaring at her. I hated it when she acted like this. She could end an avalanche with the slam of her voice.

"I just don't think you're seeing the big picture," she said. "Forest for the trees, Brigette, forest for the trees." Oh good, now cliches were in the mix. I squeezed my arms and counted to five. I sounded smarter in fights when I counted to five between remarks.

"I do see the big picture, that's what you don't understand," I said. "I see it and it doesn't look promising."

We were fighting about the same reason I was home: the job market. I wanted to quit my horrible job. Mom wanted me to stick it out. No promotion in sight, no pay raise, not enough hours. I barely make my student loan payments each month, with no money left to save to move out or up. But the world is how it is, and prospects are slim.

If it were anyone else I would have listened to the argument and then turned around and quit. But I can't with my mom. It's almost impossible for me to make a choice without her approval. Yet I like disapproval from anyone else. Catch 22.

She opened her mouth to respond to me, but the phone rang. I answered it. I could hear my dad whispering to her while I talked. He was calming her down. Yin to her yang, my dad knew how to gloss over her fire. Mine too.

Later my dad pulled me aside. "She wants to give you advice, yes. But she doesn't want you to follow orders either. I think it would make her more angry to know you do everything she wants than what you want, don't you think?" He smiled and gave me a hug. "She's a rebel, Brig. Maybe you should start showing her you are too."

Honor is such a strong word. I don't know anyone who uses it today like it was written on Moses' tablets. I don't. I don't kowtow.  I'm me. I do my own thing and listen to my own heart. But I have my parents to thank for that. Allowed to be myself from zero to present, I was never without spirit. They get me ... and I'm hard to get.

So, yes, we fight. We also laugh. We cry. We garden and cook and clean, we get each other presents for Valentine's Day, and even share music we like. We're a family. And I'm lucky, because even when I don't do what they want, they know I still honor and love them. Sometimes rebelling is a sign of respect, of honor. Sometimes rebelling is a sign of love.

Great Spirit, thank you for the gift of our parents. We may not realize just how wonderful they are, but they always seem to know how wonderful we are. Let us know more of their grace, understanding and friendship. Amen.

P.S. Love you Daddy! Love you Mom!


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Embracing diversity