Back to school: Learning to love


Honor Parents, Value Soul Mate

[This article is part of the ‘Honor Parents, Value Soulmate’ series. View other parts of this series here.]

I can remember my exam days in school and university – just a few years back. I was never the academic kid of the family – that was my brothers spotlight. For me – exams existed to be passed, and I generally did what was necessary to get over them shortly and quickly. The aim was not so much in gaining the knowledge, but rather to get the qualification at the end.

Often I would work out when the exam was and leave the intense studying as close to that date as possible. Still cramming a few minutes before the exam actually was a regular occurrence. Most study was there to be endured, before moving on to the more enjoyable aspects of life.

Too often, that’s how we treat our relationships with our parents – something to be endured, for as little time as possible before we move out of home. But regardless of whether our parents were good parents or not, God put our both our of them in our lives for the long haul – people who God would teach us to love. They may not have been great role models, but that’s the beauty of it. We learn to value our parents even if they mess up.

When we value our parents, its not only for their benefit, but ours! Our characters are formed. We learn priceless lessons about treating our friends, the person we are courting, and future husband or wife. We learn to be patient with our parents when they mess up. We learn to give when we don’t feel they deserve it. We choose to love a person who can sometimes be unlovable.

We learn to quickly forgive when they mess up. We learn that they are imperfect humans, so we are not shocked when God brings a fellow human (our soul mate) to build our life with who is not perfect. In honoring our parents, we learn invaluable lessons and build characteristics that will be useful in our future romantic relationship with our husband or wife. The greatest lessons we learn are:

  • to die to self
  • to love, be patient with and value imperfect people

These days people travel to the other side of the world to educate themselves, – to build a future. Isn’t it sad that we don’t realise that the best future we can build is in our home town. It’s in that 20-or-so meters of confinement that surrounds us and keeps us warm at night, – our very home.

I know a lot of people who have come to the country I live in to learn English, study a vocation or find a better life. They descend from every corner of the globe – India, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil… the list goes on. It’s amazing and awesome to meet and have friends from every area of the globe.

In searching for the amazing life God has promised us, sometimes it seems easier to go find an answer on the other side of the world, but we fail to realise that answer may be waiting for us back at home where we left it. Parents and home are often the ‘unwelcome’ packages that God places in our lives to learn from. Too often we find it hard to receive from them, give to them and love them, – so we discard them.

These important qualifications are not found at Harvard, Princeton, Oxford or Cambridge University. Instead its found at a much higher calibre school – called ‘Parents University’. This university can sometimes be a lot more challenging than any other educational establishment, but the benefits are priceless in comparison.

“If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you…”

You may be still living at home and still have time left to value your parents. Now is that time to take advantage and make this quality time, honoring both your parents.

You may say to me: “I get along well with one parent, – but because of some reason my relationship with my other parent isn’t a great… its good but not great…” Now is the time – with God’s help – to build that relationship!

What happens if you have left home? It’s simple common sense: When you get lost, retrace your steps and go back to where you went wrong. Then carry on.

In the story of the Prodigal son, Jesus tells us of a rebellious son returning back home, saying “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” As long as there is no risk of physical abuse, – maybe its about time to return home to serve, love and honor your parents (even if it is thousands of miles away).

The time spent learning now, – practising selflessness with our parents can save years of heartache in future courting and marriage relationships.

If your parents aren’t alive anymore, pray for God to send parental replacements into your life that you can learn to love and honour – as if they were your parents. Maybe they are an older, mature couple at church, or your boyfriend/girlfriends parents.

It’s never too late to start valuing our parents!

It doesn’t matter how old we are. Regardless of whether we are 5, 16, 28 or 50 years old we can learn to value our parents and it can do us the world of good.

‘Neuro development’ says that movements of a baby help develop the neural pathways of the brain – from the time that the baby is inside the womb, – to exercises like crawling and walking outside the womb.

A person may be under-developed in coordination or other ways if that miss out on these ‘baby excercises’. The truly phenomenal observation is that a person can actually still develop their brain if they carry out the same exercises when they get older.

Remember: It is never, ever too late to start honoring our parents. God said in Joel 2:25:

“And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten…”

Love is a choice. Just like with studying, we know what we need to do, but we need to take action – to get out our books and start cramming. In this case we just need to take action in honoring and valuing our parents. If we have in the past have devalued our father or mother – for whatever reason – we need to learn to love them. Just like any other discipline in life, – we have to ‘work at it’, – not in our own strength, but through the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us.

That way, – when God brings that perfect Prince or Princess into our life, – we will choose to prize them like we should.

The bible promises that if we allow God to renew our minds we can experience God’s perfect will for our lives – WOW!:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLV)

Because of what Jesus did for us, we have so much benefit to take hold of. The choice is ours, now. Make the most of now!


[This article is part of the ‘Honor Parents, Value Soul Mate’ series. View other parts of this series and references here.]

[Most names used in stories have been changed to protect identities]

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Non-quoted text is copyright Stephen Ernst, and generously licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

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