There were twin brothers who grew up together in the same house. Their father was an abusive alcoholic, and the family suffered much because of him. As the two boys grew up, they took very different paths in life. One went on to become a doctor, with a good family and he became very successful. The other brother ended up broke and on the streets, and a very abusive alcoholic, just like his...
Both brothers were interviewed in an attempt to discover how they ended up in such polarized worlds. The alcoholic brother said, "The reason I am who I am today, is because of my father." The second, successful brother was asked the same question, and his response was surprising: "The reason I am who I am today, is because of my father."
The response of the second brother teaches us an important principle. Our lives are not the outcome of our circumstances. Our lives are the outcome of our response to those circumstances. Our response is not the result of what we see, but how we see. The difference between the two brothers was not what they saw in their father but how they saw him.
In the Hebrew culture, a person's relationship with God cannot be separated from their relationship with their parents. It is not possible to have a good relationship with God, while having a bad relationship with your parents. They are interconnected. So when we disrespect and dishonor our parents, what we are really doing is disservice to our relationship with God.
When I was younger I had a very hard time reconciling these two things. My parents were not alcoholics. They were actually quite the opposite— they were preachers. I didn't mind God, He was alright. But my parents, especially my mother, got on my nerves. She always loved me, but during my teenage years, she really pushed me to be spiritual, when I was more interested in being cool. I remember she would make us pray, right when the Liverpool game was starting. It was almost like she knew. You just don't do that!
When I was around 19 years old, I decided to write a letter to my parents apologizing for some of my negative attitudes towards them. I didn't feel like doing it. I didn't want to do it. In all truth, it was a very difficult letter to write, because I felt in some aspects it was them who should be writing the letter, not me. But I knew it was the right thing to do. Circumstances are circumstances, and they will be different for everyone. But we are not the product of our circumstances. We are the product of our response to those circumstances. Ephesians 6 tells us that we are to honor our mother and father. It is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with us, and that we might live long in the land He is giving us.
What happened to me in the weeks and months following the writing of that letter, was something I had never experienced before. I began to observe a change in my heart, particularly in my attitude toward my parents. I knew it wasn't me, because this is something my pride would normally not allow. The Bible describes how God takes out the heart of stone and puts in the heart of flesh. That's exactly what happened to me! I began to see my parents as God saw them. I began to really appreciate them, not because I "had to," but because God had put a love in my heart for them. What was most shocking to me, was that I actually enjoyed hanging out with them, more than my peers. I know, it's crazy.
That letter was a real turning point in my life. Today I still enjoy hanging out with my parents, and I have learned the importance of honoring them. And as I look around and see where my journey has taken me, God has been very good to me. And I can also say that the reason I am who I am today, is because of my parents.