There are several verses in the bible which tell us to, “Honor your mother and father.”
But how do we do this when we have a toxic parent, and keep from falling into sin? This is a question that, unfortunately, is asked quite often, and truthfully I was one of those asking. One thing to be sure of is the difference between a toxic parent, and one who is challenging to work with.
Each situation is very individual so go into your prayer closet and listen for the voice of the Lord. Some of us will be called to walk away, and others will be called to be still. Either way, be prepared to follow the Lord’s leading. If you’re unsure which way to go, always go by way of peace and safety.
As I stayed prayerful through my own situation, the Lord blessed me with revelation so that I could move forward without sin, and in that I’ve received so much more…
Let me share a bit of my story:
My parents separated when I was very young. My mother’s intentions were to save herself, but in that search for freedom her children became the ransom. She left an abusive situation at the expense of her children being on the receiving end of another. And into adulthood, the situation ceased to improve.
I tried for many years to pacify or amuse her. I thought my actions would lead her to change her behavior toward me. I thought I could encourage my mother be kind to me, understand me, want to know me, and most of all to just love me. But nothing I did would ever be good enough and she made sure I knew that. No matter how hard I tried, in her eyes I deserved to be nothing more than target-practice because I was a worthless extension of my father and a nuisance to her new relationship.
I kept these things to myself most of my life. I was afraid that others wouldn’t understand. But if anyone knows my heart best, it’s God, and He knows how challenging human relationships can be. When I received salvation, I was both desperate and hopeful for the Lord to mend the broken relationship between me and my mother, and I prayed countless times through tears and frustration.
Psalm 27:10 “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
Through prayer, the Lord gave me not only comfort, but instruction as well. These were a work in progress, but it was well worth every effort.
- Pray for her – God asked me first and foremost to pray for her. It can be difficult to pray for someone who’s hurt you so much, for so long. But I obeyed the Lord. I prayed her heart would soften; for peace between us; for restoration of our relationship; that she would be delivered from bondage; and I prayed we’d see one another through spiritual eyes …
- Forgive her – God encouraged me to forgive her so I could be free. He reminded me it’s the enemy who’s responsible for the pain of the world. I needed to understand that she was under the influence of darkness, and I had to make sure I did not fall prey as well by harboring anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, or any of the like, within my own heart.
- Pray for healing – God asked me to pray for healing, not just for my own heart, but for hers as well. I understood she had a life before me that surely included her own painful experiences. I learned that most people who are mean and angry, are people who have been hurt deeply. So while I asked the Lord to heal my heart, I prayed for hers to be healed as well.
- Forgive her – Yes, God told me again to forgive her because both sin and bitterness are of the enemy. God reminded me that until I realized she was a victim of the enemy, I would hold her transgressions against her – in turn this meant I had not fully forgiven, so the Lord urged me to release every heavy weight I carried in my heart and lay it down at the cross.
- Let go – This was my final instruction from the Lord. For some of you this may mean something different than what it meant for me. He may be telling you to let go of the pain; to let go of any hidden anger or resentment; to let go of any stronghold that may be hindering your spiritual growth. For me, not only did it include all of the above, but He also revealed it was time for me to walk away. I had to learn to give the reins to the Lord, and remain prayerful as He worked in her. The walk could have been temporary or permanent, but the most important aspect was to remain prayerful over her and do all the Lord asked of me to do.
“Love covers a multitude of sin…”
I obeyed the Lord in His commands, in His way and on His time. I learned it wasn’t about honoring fallible man, as it was about honoring our gracious GOD. He led me to pray for her, forgive her, let go, and move forward peacefully. And doing it this way kept me out of sin. These actions allowed me to be free from the bondage of oppression that had overtaken her. And because of this, I can continue to pray for her sincerely today, as a lost sheep, not as a person who hurt me.
I brought glory to the Lord by replacing bitterness with peace. By loving, instead of hating.
By forgiving instead of resenting. By refraining from gossip, and walking away peacefully.
And I continue to pray for her spiritual freedom and salvation.
This was not a process completed overnight. I endured for quite some time before the Lord released me. (*But this is no way implies that one should continue in abusive or destructive behavior, which are not God’s design for anyone’s life.*)
No one expects you to heal in a day. Even now there are moments where I hurt, but I’ve let go of angry emotions, and when I feel pain begin to spring up inside me, I give it to the Lord. My God has rescued me and turned the bad for my good (Genesis 50:20) and I’m grateful for this freedom!
Lastly, we are temporarily part of this human race – each of us born to parents, good or bad – and those of us who’ve suffered know the pain can last well beyond those early years. Some of us will separate from a toxic parent, and others will stand by a little longer. We faithfully pray for change, in and around ourselves. Sometimes we’ll see the evidence of answered prayers, but other times it’s not for us to stand by and witness.
Whichever way the Lord takes you, I pray these words will help you to draw closer to our Deliverer, to seek His will above your own, to encourage you to forgive those who have trespassed against you, to help you let go, and to lead you in your walk toward healing. Remember, with help from the Lord, the mountain is never insurmountable. God bless you…
PRAYER: Father God, we thank You for Your hands upon our lives. We plead Your hedge of protection upon us, Lord, as You lead and guide us in the way to go. Help us Lord to forgive those who have trespassed against us, as You have forgiven us of our own. We pray the You would remove the scales off our eyes and the eyes of our loved ones, that we would see and act by the Spirit, and not by the flesh. Cleanse our hearts of hidden faults, Lord, that we may be blameless before you. Show Your children how to love one another, especially those who are a challenge to love. Give us the strength to leave these bricks of resentment and pain at the foot of the cross, that we may be free from this stronghold. We ask that You would restore those relationships in need of restoration, and soften those that aren’t up for repair. We ask that You would bless us with the gift of discernment to know how we ought to respond to all circumstances. Help us to set limits where they need to be placed, and to remove ourselves from situations in which we do not belong. Protect us as we move forward onto paths of peace and righteousness. We thank You Father, for You are faithful to answer. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, Amen.
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