Tuesday, October 4, 2016


"Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you." - Exodus 20:12

I had joined my youngest daughter and a couple of her friends for lunch on campus yesterday. We were sitting around a conference table in a large study room that opened into the main hallway of the science and engineering building.

A man passed by the door, then stepped back and looked into the room. Crossing to where our lunch group sat, he looked at me and asked, "Are you Benjamin Kendall's mom?"


He smiled and thrust his hand toward me. "I thought so!" he exclaimed. The engineering professor told me his name as he shook my hand. "It is a privilege to meet you, Mrs. Kendall!"

(Yep, I'm the mother of a celebrity!)

* * *
"Honor your father and mother..."

Dad and Mom and I have been through some rough patches over the years. There have been times when I've thought, "Yes, I love my parents, but how on earth am I supposed to honor them? What does that even mean in light of present circumstances?!"

During one of these difficult periods, a friend challenged me this way: Honoring your parents, he explained, does not mean always agreeing with them. When you are an adult, it does not mean always doing what they say or want. What it does mean is that you strive to live in such a way that others assume very good things about your parents. It means, you endeavor to be an honorable person, one whose life reflects honorably on her parents.

My friend's words were so freeing. At the time, I couldn't "fix" what was wrong in my relationship with my parents. I could, however, try to live in a way that brought my parents honor.

As if to confirm my friend's counsel, God blessed me soon after in this way:

Dad had just arrived at our house from out-of-town for a visit. Stopping by on an errand, my pastor pulled up in the driveway right behind Dad.

When I introduced the two men, my pastor's face lit up and he held out his hand. "It is such an honor to meet you, Mr. Stricklin!" 

"You shouldn't say that, young man," Daddy teased, shaking the younger man's hand. "You don't know a thing about me!"

"No, but I know your daughter," my pastor explained, "and so I can truthfully say, it is a great honor to meet you, Mr. Stricklin."

I almost burst into tears on the spot, grateful that my pastor thought well of my dad without having even met him, simply because of the things he assumed about my dad from having known me. It felt like I had both been given and been the giver of a precious gift.

* * *
"Honor your father and mother..."

My own kids have honored their mother greatly - not by always doing exactly what I would choose or by giving me fancy gifts or by winning prestigious awards, but, in a strange sort of way, by covering my nakedness.

I have failed abysmally at times as a mother, as a teacher, as a mentor, and as a friend. But instead of letting my failures define how they relate to me, my kids have chosen to relate to me with forgiveness, gratitude, and affection. Out in the big wide world, they have lived in such a way- in all their great variety of ways! - that others assume (not always rightly so) good things about me and incredible things about my role as a mother.

I could go down the entire list, name my seven children one by one, and tell you about all the times someone has said to me, "You are ------'s mom? Oh! It is such an honor to meet you!"

No. The honor is not yours, dear person that I just met - oddly enough, and not because I merit it, the honor is mine. I am overwhelmed.

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