SHOW HIM SOME HONOR
What does it mean to give honor? It’s a question that puzzled me for years, because the command to honor my father felt in conflict with the feeling that my father didn’t deserve my honor. He simply couldn’t, he wasn’t present. So when I occasionally saw him or spoke to him on the phone and he made comments like, “I’m proud of you, son,” those words felt so empty. Again, because he wasn’t really there. I ran track from when I was 9 years old, and was pretty good in my youth.
Multiple national championships and even a couple of trips to Junior Olympics, but guess whose dad wasn’t in the stands cheering me on? Reality is, most of my teammates didn’t have fathers that were present either, so it’s not like I knew that I was missing something. But I did know I was missing him at home. People commented all of the time that I looked like my dad, or I laughed like my dad, and told stories about how funny my dad was back in the day.
To me, he was both a figure that I admired and a phantom that I wished was around to make me laugh and to show me how to be a man. But due to a terrible addiction to alcohol, he simply wasn’t. So as I grew older, I just lived in the conflict. Wishing I knew more about him and that we were closer, but also wanting to keep my distance from the man who disappointed me so often.
As I grew in the Lord, the command to honor my father loomed as an inescapable tension. How was I supposed to do that? Honoring my Grandfather came easy it seemed. Talking about a man who was present, who took care of me, who asked me the hard questions, who modeled integrity, who exemplified the faith and patience and service to others that would leave an indelible mark on my life.
Honoring that man was easy. I loved him deeply, because he first loved me. He showed me what love looked like. To this day I can unexpectedly break into tears of joy and tears of the pain of the loss of the most significant man in my life. When Father's Day came around annually, I didn’t have to conjure up the nerves to give him a call, or browse the greeting card aisle forever trying to find the card that said just enough, but not too much.
Not with my grandfather. I could buy a blank card and fill it with words of expression of my gratitude and loving kindness towards this man that was easy to honor, because he showed me consistent, compassionate, unqualified love.
As I wrestled with this question well into my adulthood, I stared at my Bible and read the words to honor my father, the easy thing to do is to give honor to my father figure, but to discard the command as it related to my actual dad. But then I learned more. I began to dig deep into the definition of honor, and realized that it was more than to show gratitude, or to follow his advice, but to hold him in high regard.
Then I began to think about how I could honor my father even though he wasn’t the example that I thought he should be. I had to look past my grandfather and the great shadow he cast over my dad. I had to look towards my Heavenly Father, the only one who could show me perfectly how to love and care for those around me. Then I had to realize that to bring honor to my earthly father, and even to my grandfather, was to live in such a way that would bring them honor by living Christlike.
Beyond the barbershop talk of, “I heard about your kid doing great things,” or the gigantic smile resulting from reading an excellent progress report from school. Beyond doing things in front of him that would naturally elicit his commendation.
To bring honor to my father is to live in such a way that Our Father in Heaven would be well pleased, and to do my best show my father that allegiance to Him and His perfect love. To bring honor to my father is to live aligned with the gospel, whether or not he understands it or respects it. To treat him with respect, and to show him love and forgiveness, and to communicate His love, is the primary way in which I can bring him honor.
For some of you, I imagine the struggle to show your father honor may be very real, as it was for me. For others, to show and to share that you truly love him and are thankful for his influence in your life is easy, I can relate to that as well. But to all of us, no matter where your dad fits on the gradient scale of “honorability” in your mind, I only encourage you all to look beyond him, and to live as the man and the father that Our Heavenly Father calls you to be.
To walk humbly before Him should result in having compassion and care and humility before your earthly dad. No matter if you find it hard, or if you find it no chore, give him a call or drop him a line if he is still alive. In my case, both my father and grandfather have passed, but my pursuit to show them honor continues.
Every day is a celebration and a conscious decision to live in forgiveness. I pray that it can be the same for you as well.
Written by UNCOMMEN coach, Dee Lanier.