As a nation and world we have learned a hard lesson in the last eight weeks of the Coronavirus: the fragility of so many of our parents and grandparents. Seeing the hundreds of caskets in images on screens large and small has been a sobering reality. The occupants inside those wooden boxes: a generation of seasoned, wise men and women who gave us life and liberty.
Self-absorption is natural for all, but especially for the young and healthy. Those of us in the middle can appreciate more the wealth that is lost when those older than us pass on. Hopefully we can also act with more intentional appreciation toward those who survive.
A second wave of the virus is predicted for later this summer or fall. A window of time remains for us whose parents and even grandparents are still living. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are approaching and the very best present for any parent or grandparent is the gift of words of honor.
Years ago my husband, Dennis, wrote a book, The Forgotten Commandment, about honoring our parents. He had discovered the promise hidden in the Ten Commandments. Did you know there was one? I didn’t. The fifth commandment commands us “to honor your father and mother,” and ends with a promise, “so that you may live long in the land” (Exodus 20:12).
Do you want to live long? Who doesn’t?
More important than eating well, sustaining an exercise program or managing stress is God’s prescription for how to live a long life. I believe in healthy diets and exercise, but there are more invisible contributors to longevity than we imagine. Honor is one.
Criticizing parents is far easier. I know because I did it. Seeing things my parents could have done better, naming their mistakes, and feeling a victim of the harm done was infinitely easier. Now I know they did the best they could with what they were given and I also know that all parents harm their children in ways they are not aware of at the time.
In a deliberate choice, one that was not based on feelings, I decided to write a tribute, a list of the positive things my parents did for me as a child. It wasn’t easy at first to make this list, but I prayed God would help me see the good.
And He did. There were some very good things my parents had done. And as I wrote I discovered more.
Without question the best gift I ever gave my parents was a written thank you for all their work, anxiety, prayers, and hopes invested in me, most of it unknown and unseen by me. (You can read my tribute here.)
Giving them this written list of my gratitude opened the door to a much better, much more loving relationship. I think they finally felt appreciated. And what parent alive doesn’t wish for a thank you occasionally from their children?
Will we believe God and choose to honor, thank and express gratitude for the good our parents did do? As these annual Sunday holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Day approach, I’d love for you to hear my encouragement, and then to take steps to honor your mom and dad.
Start with a paragraph for these coming days set aside for moms and dads, then begin work on a longer expression of your appreciation to be given on an anniversary, a birthday or Christmas. The promise to you is a long life.
The Coronavirus has taught us we won’t have them forever.