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How To Honor Abusive Parents

This is something I've struggled hard with. My father is a Malignant Narcissist. He was all I had left after losing my brother and mother before I was 12 and my maternal grandmother (who helped take care of me) in 2009.

I don't even speak to him anymore. I love my father despite what he is and has done. I would love nothing more than to have a normal relationship with him and to have him in my life and my unborn son's life, but I also know that's not possible right now unless God intervenes. In order to avoid further dishonoring him and sinning 6 ways to Sunday against him and God, in order to avoid any further emotional and mental abuse, I was forced to cut contact.

God never laid down conditions for honoring parents. Honoring parents is also the only commandment that comes with a promise. He never said "If parents are worthy of honor, then honor them". He simply said "Honor your father and mother". The ramifications of honoring/dishonoring parents are vast and reflects far more than just obeying a commandment. If you are estranged from your parents or parent, you can still honor them despite their sins against us....

1. Don't speak against them in anger or dishonor them in speech to them or to others...

You may struggle with this because your wounds are still very raw. The only option for us is to repent of it and let it go. It's not about them. It's not even about us. It's about God. As Christ didn't slander, gossip or verbally attack His abusers, neither are we to.

2. Don't dwell on it....

"Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" Luke 9:62

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17 

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 

This is difficult, but nothing causes more damage to us  and our walk with Christ then when we dwell on past hurts and abuses and hold grudges. If we stay focused on that then we are completely unproductive for God, it ruins our witness, ruins our life and keeps up stuck in a rut. All it does is cause bitter roots to spring up and bitterness breeds hate and unforgiveness. The best way and only way to deal with it, is to let it all go. We can forgive, but we can't forget and God knows that. Cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22). When you hit a snag or feel yourself sinking into self pity and the pain of past abuse, take it immediately to God. Tell Him about it. Pour your heart out to Him (Psalm 62:8). Only He can bring healing and comfort anyway and He promises to do just that.

3. See it for what it is....SIN...

Any abuse we've come out of, whether mental, emotional, physical or sexual, we have to understand it's all sin. It is the wickedness of sin. As man increased so did sin. We also need to understand that if it were not for our salvation and the restraining grace of God, we would be no different then our abusers. Sin spreads sin. Sin spawns more sin and we eventually live what we've learned apart from God. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." (John Bradford)

4. Do not retaliate or lash out against them...

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Not retaliating can be extremely difficult, but....

"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men." Romans 12:17

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.'" Romans 12:19

"Do not say, 'I will repay evil'; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you." Proverbs 20:22

"Do not say, "Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." Proverbs 24:29

5. Love and pray for them...

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:27-36

6. Don't hold it against them....

"But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.' And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves." Luke 23:34

"Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them!' Having said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60

7. Love them from afar...

Sometimes we just need to love people from afar. If being in contact with them would cause you to sin against God, them and to protect yourself from further abuse, then love them from afar. Pray for them. Fast for them. Hope for them and be rid of all animosity toward them. If you must cut contact then do it, but do it carefully, respectfully and prayerfully.

8. Don't lose hope for them...

God is God. He can do anything. He can change anyone. The Apostle Paul is a good example of this. He was an abuser, terrorist and murderer in every sense of the word, but God was still able to reach him.

9. Understand and appreciate they gave you life. Maybe they didn't do much more than that, but it is enough.

(This post is for adult children of an abuser and not someone who is currently in an abusive home. If that's you then understand that honoring and obeying parents does not mean  allowing them to abuse you. When we're in a situation and we know obeying our parents is disobeying God then we are to obey God and disobey our parents (or any others in authority over us). If you're being abused, then reach out to someone...anyone. Call the police. It's not dishonoring to parents to stop atrocious forms of abuse and it's certainly not your fault you're being abused. Putting an end to it is beneficial for you and also beneficial to the abuser.)


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Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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