“Why is it so hard to love her?”
That was my struggle growing up. Why was it that I tried my best to please my mum, yet it didn’t seem enough? That whenever I did something well, there was no “good job” or “I’m proud of you” from her, but whenever I did something wrong or was not up to her standard, I got called out for it? On the other hand, I felt guilty whenever I rolled my eyes at her, talked back to her, or walked away from her because we didn’t see things the same way or I felt falsely accused.
That was my relationship with Mummy during my younger days. It was probably due to a mix of personality differences, communication challenges, generation gap, and mismatched expectations. But it bothered me that while I proclaimed to love Christ my Lord, and hence desired to be a good witness at school and actively served in church, when it came to things at home, I wasn’t the filial daughter I wished I could be. How could I praise God on a Sunday morning, then show Mummy a gloomy face that same evening? Surely it broke His heart to see my disrespectful behaviour towards the very person He wanted me to honour.
The fact that God listed “honour your father and mother” (Exod 20:12) as one of the ten commandments for the people of Israel reflects how much that meant to God Himself. During those days, it could be that the Israelites were disrespecting their parents, despising them in their frailty or not taking care of them, and so God had to set this law to protect the elderly who were dependent on their children. Another reason could be now that Israel was set apart as God’s holy nation, they were to follow God’s design for how a family should relate to one another, and set an example for other nations. Throughout Scripture, the word “honour” often applies to God, and may suggest a relationship between the honour one gives to parents and the honour one gives to God. And if obeying our parents pleases the Lord (Col 3:20), then in choosing to honour our parents, we are honouring God too.
I can’t remember if there was an exact moment in my younger days when I chose to surrender my relationship with Mummy to God, out of a desire to honour God in all areas of my life. But I know that it took years of continually asking God for help, to help me love and honour my mum. As I grew in my walk with God, there was also a stronger desire to allow God to transform my behaviours, thoughts and speech at home, so that Christ would truly be Lord over my whole life, including my relationship with Mummy.
I’m still learning what it means to honour Mummy. To honour her is to accept the person that she is, and not trying to change her into the ideal mum I want her to be. To honour her is to cherish her, speak with her patiently, and accompany her to the doctor as she grows older and may not see or hear as clearly as before. To honour her is to be thankful for her. She brought my siblings and me up single-handedly after Papa passed away when I was 13. She churns out pineapple tarts every Lunar New Year to bless relatives and friends. She’s unashamed of the gospel and shares it excitedly with those she meets. She loves me so much that she let me go into missions. She’s also a daughter of the Most High God and a precious follower of Jesus. Most importantly, she’s my mum and I love her.