Parents are perfect! But are they really? Of course, no parent is perfect. They are all human. Their knowledge is imperfect. Their wisdom is imperfect. Oftentimes, their resources are not adequate. These imperfections could lead to lifelong bitterness and anger; they result in their children doing the same thing to their own children. They could lead to an emotional imbalance the list goes on.
However, there is another option we can take that can heal the wound that refuses to heal, and possibly prevent the start of a bad tradition.
We see, all around us, examples of adult children who have strained relationships with their now-elderly parents. They do not get along with one another. The adult children are angry with them and the smallest action might trigger their anger. Objectivity is thrown out of the window. This trigger often stems from a series of events in which conflicts were not resolved, and their roots continue to dip into the depths of the soul.
Difficult situations require wisdom and strategy. We have to be motivated in order to gain the zeal to forgive. Various factors serve as our motivation.
Here are a few of them:
1. We forgive them because God said so. God said to honor our parents. It is the first interpersonal commandment and the one with a promise.
Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2)
2. We forgive the past because perhaps at the time they hurt us, they did not realize the repercussions their actions would have. They did not understand the pain we had to endure. Their own parents might have treated them in the same manner, leading them to subconsciously adopt the same actions and mannerisms.
3. We remember their sacrifice for us. They might have worked hard to put food on the table, or they made an effort to take us on a few trips. They sacrificed their own desires to buy things for us instead. If they erred by showing favoritism, let us overlook their misdeeds and forgive them in light of the love they have shown over the years.
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye (Colossians 3:13).
4. We remember that they are human. We all err in judgment and in morality. Since they are human, and we too are human, an objective and humble introspection will remind us that we are not much better than them.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalms 51:5).
5. We want the joy and peace forgiveness promises. We cannot be fully happy when we are unforgiving or when we are punishing our aged parents. Guilt, hurt, and anger are companions to an unforgiving heart in situations like these.
6. We can enjoy our parents when we forgive them. The love of our parents is one of the greatest gifts God has given to man. In letting them go and in cleansing them of their offenses toward us, we too become the true beneficiaries not only of forgiveness but also of parental love. Many people whose parents have passed on would do anything to have them back.
Those whose parents are still with them should appreciate them and forgive them. Let us put a smile on their face, and joy in their heart. Even if they err again, we must remember that this is simply a part of imperfect human relationships. Let us enjoy God’s gift in them.
7. We are sowing a seed that will determine how our own children will treat us when they are grown. They are always observing the ways in which we interact with our own parents.
The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness [shall be] a sure reward (Proverbs 11:18).
Forgiveness is not of course exposing ourselves to continuous abuse, be it emotional or physical or whatever shape it may come in. It is, however, giving up the resentment and looking for ways to resolve the past and present issues that bring up the conflicts.
In conclusion, it is natural to be vindictive, but vengeance is not the answer. Forgiveness brings closure to past grievances, positions us to address the current issues objectively, and helps us to become more tolerant. The blessings of God accompany forgiveness even of our elderly parents.
In forgiving our parents, we are sowing seeds of mercy that will lead to the forgiveness of our own sins and much much more.
Dr. Tai Ikomi is an author of over 30 books and a conference speaker. She gives seminars on the Names of God and forgiveness after forgiving the drunk man who killed her entire family. She is the founder of Forgiveness Discipleship.
Dr. Tai Ikomi