How do I honor my father when it’s hard to forgive him?

Kaye Olivar

June 17, 2021

My parents separated when I was 13 years old. In the process, I witnessed a lot of things that changed my perspectives in life. I hated coming home from school, because, in those days, our house was simply that—a house, not a home. 

I was too young to understand or to say anything, but I was old enough to harbor unpleasant memories. I have one particular memory that I wish I could erase. It was in the middle of the night when my brother woke me up and sobbingly asked me to go to our living room. I was half-asleep, confused at what was going on, but I was quickly awakened by the question, “Kanino kayo sasama?”

I could never forget that moment. Aside from the image of that scene and the raging emotions that we all felt, that was the first time I fully embraced the fact that I resent my dad. It was then that I decided that I would always stand by my mom. I was too young to understand what I was getting my heart into, but I was old enough to retain pain and vivid memories. 

Growing up, I kept a record of the wrong things people have done to me so that I can shield myself from further pain or disappointment. I don’t want them to have any chance of hurting me again. So, you see, the resentment I embraced as a kid created a new standard of forgiveness and love in me. 

Almost 17 years later and I’m still learning to fully forgive not just my dad, but even the others who have wronged me or my family. I’m still learning to surrender everything I have unconsciously kept in my heart and allow God to replace my standard of forgiveness and love with His.

“Honor your father and mother . . .” 

Ephesians 6:2

“Honor” is an important word that God has been stirring in my heart today. God commands us to “honor” our parents—in the original Greek, “to have a fixed value” of who they are to us. He wants us to not just value our parents, but their value must be “fixed,” unchanged by whatever happened between us in the past, by who they are today, or by what will happen in the future. God commands us to value our parents based on Him, not on our situation, their behavior, or our feelings for them.

I teared up when I realized this because although my mind is willing, my heart is still struggling. I teared up realizing how vast the love of God is for us all that no matter what wrong and unfair things my dad had done to our family, God still loves him. God is still willing to lavish him with love. God still wants him to be reconciled with Himself.

As a child to my biological father, my heavenly Father wants me to respond the way He loves me. He wants me to respond to Him, not to my situation.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:8–12 (NIV)

It is sometimes very difficult to respond in forgiveness, love, and honor, especially when many of us have experienced abuse, abandonment, or rejection. Many of us have suffered many things from the imperfect and broken “love” around us. 

But as children of God, He wants us to respond to His perfect love. While seeing our parents at a “fixed value” might be a high climb from how we see them now, God’s love can go “as high as the heaven is above the earth.” God is calling us to ride on His perfect love. There will be consequences for all our actions, but God has never given us the allowance to take vengeance into our hands. He wants us to trust Him and “honor” our parents instead. Honor, without any ifs and buts. 

Many of us struggle with the thought of even just letting go of our pains, and yet we are commanded to “honor” our parents. Forgiveness by our definition today could mean letting go and not retaliating. So, we think that when we have kept our peace with them and have moved forward with our lives, continuing with the pursuit of our dreams, we think then that we have obeyed much. 

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:8–11

Jesus was not only willing to let go of His own life through death, but He lived a life that was aligned to His Father. Therefore, as followers of Christ, we are not just simply called to let go of our old life and our old ways of doing things, but we are now called to embrace a new life in Him—a life lived by faith—including the faith to forgive so that we can see our parents according to their fixed value in Christ.

It is hard, but I know that Jesus has provided the grace, strength, wisdom, and love—all that we need and more—so we could honor and love our parents and live a life that glorifies Him.




The Author

Kaye Olivar

Kaye is an incoming Campus Missionary from Every Nation Campus Bataan. She’s an ENFP who loves to do random things, write, call her dog just to tease him, or read a good book. When she’s not serving the students in the campus, she’s by her window, painting book covers, just for fun.