But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy...
1 Tim. 3:1-2
by Hillary McFarland
ave you ever had this Scripture quoted at you? With ominous emphasis on last days and disobedience to parents? I have.
I often hear from ostracized adult daughters who have made life decisions their parents believe are in disobedience (rebellion) to them and their teachings. Most of these women report that the difficult choices they make are a response to God's calling for them. Parents counter that God wouldn't ask them to do something that contradicts what they have taught and their understanding of Scripture.
Yet these same parents teach their children to obey God first, regardless of the cost, regardless of the suffering and sacrifice, regardless of what other people think. These same parents generally encourage their children to stay in the Word and ask God for wisdom. To grow in the knowledge of Him, take up the cross, and follow.
When these women obediently do so, they are condemned, emotionally (and sometimes physically) severed from their families, and rejected.
Scripture teaches that children are to honor their parents, but there is a difference between honor and obedience. Honor itself is not always a feeling. This article is not a criticism of parents who want to raise a godly family but it is a pointed look at the highly-confusing message some women (and men) struggle with in their adult life: which is that living life differently, having alternate convictions, or even reaching a different understanding of Scripture is equal to backsliding, rebellion, deception, or rejection of faith. For those who have prayed, studied, and carefully sought the Lord regarding their conclusions, this can be absolutely crushing.
Part of walking with God means to be bare before Him, asking Him to reveal sin in our lives and lead us in the way everlasting. Only the Lord knows the true motivations of our hearts. If there is an adult daughter who is in true rebellion and disobedience, there is still hope! However, honor and obedience notwithstanding, I submit that there is a lot less disobedience happening than some would have us believe.
Did your parents raise you to obey God? Did they teach you to follow Jesus? It's a hard life. Can a parent ever be truly prepared for this? Can we ever be truly prepared for this? Because this is the reality of a cross-bearing life:
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25-33
Did they raise you to seek first the kingdom of God? To be willing to go against the flow, to sacrifice? To take a stand? To question? To test all things and hold fast the good? To love God above all others, even when it hurts?
Encouragement for Living
Transitions are rarely easy, especially when it comes to issues of family and faith, individual (yes, individual) relationships with God, relationships with those we love, and sometimes the simple matter of growing up. It's hard for everyone. For women, especially those who do follow the Lord faithfully despite opposition, may I offer some humble encouragement?
- Keep your words sweet, like the saying reminds us, because someday you might have to eat them.
- Seek to be humble in all things.
- Stay open to correction, because we can learn from everyone despite disagreement.
- Find safe and trustworthy people with whom to fellowship, even if you meet for coffee once a week.
- The art of boundaries takes time to develop, but ask the Lord to show you how! And keep firm, but gracious, boundaries.
- Listen well. Pray without ceasing.
- As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all. But follow Jesus first.
- Trust God. Trust His love for you and His love for the ones you love.
- Remember that parents and others sometimes respond like they do because they are genuinely afraid for you. Honor them and be thankful for their love. Take their fears to the Heavenly Father and ask Him if there is anything He wants to show you through them, and ask Him to comfort them also.
- Don't let the rejection you feel cause you to reject others ~ or to even reject yourself. Don't reject your sadness. Don't reject your pain. Don't reject your anger. Let God use these things, and the God-of-all-comfort will bring life in ways you've never expected.
- Do not return "evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."
It can be confusing and deeply hurtful to experience emotional or physical rejection, especially when you have ultimately done what was asked of you. It's hard when you reap 'punishment' for obedience, rather than disobedience.
But take heart that you are not rejected by the One who matters most.