I was born in a Portuguese family where the concept of family is very important. In my family, my mother has always taken care of my brother and myself. She was very demonstrative with us, often telling us she loved us, showing us a lot of affection, cuddling and kissing us a lot. But it was not the same with my father. Quite the contrary! I remember when I attended primary school I had two twin sisters as friends with whom I sometimes went back home with. One day, while I was at their house, as their father came back from work, he hugged them and asked them how was their day at school. My father had never behaved in such way with me. So I ended up believing that my father did not love me. Sometimes I tried to hug him but he remained still, so I had the impression that I was annoying him with my signs of affection.
As I grew up, I became very affectionate towards my mother and not so towards my father. On the contrary, I started to behave badly and speak harshly to him. One day, I even told him that I will never marry a man like him, that is to say, a hard man. When I indeed happened to see my mother crying and my father not attempting to comfort her, I bore a grudge against him. According to me, he had to support and show her that he was simply there for her. In short, I rejected and showed him no respect.
This did not bother me at all until I had an encounter with the Lord. Actually, the Lord made me understand that my father’s lack of love was not a reason to behave badly towards him or disrespect him.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
God did not say that we should honor and obey our parents provided that they behave well towards us, but because it is righteous to do so. As I was being disobedient, my behaviour thus did not comply with the Scriptures. As a consequence, I was transgressing one of the Lord’s commandments.
I have realized that we like taking a look at our wounds and pointing the faults of others but we do not even take the time to observe our own attitudes, mistakes, and sins. Yet, on Judgment Day, God will judge us according to our acts and not according to what others did to us.
Having revealed to me that I needed to repent, the Lord then also enabled me to realize that all my life I had lived in a dysfunctional family. Nobody was at the right place. And after all, we all contributed to maintaining this imbalance with our behavior.
My father was not at his place as the visionary and the head of the family.
My mother was not at her place as the wife and the mother.
And I was not in my place as the daughter who had to honour her parents.
This had disastrous consequences to me. Because of the unbalanced relationship with my father, I ended up fearing men. And I transgressed God’s commandment, so then God showed me the right behaviour I needed to adopt within my family.
Because of the unbalanced relationship I had with my mother, I developed a toxic mother-child bond, which stole away the relationship I had to have with the Lord. I indeed took much more refuge in my mother’s arms than in the Lord’s. I even ended up fearing that I would not be a good wife because I was afraid of being inadequate. As my mother managed everything in the house, I thus ended up thinking that this is what was expected of a wife, and I did not feel able to follow that model once married.
However, the Lord showed me that He did not create matrimony in that way. In a family, everyone has their own place. If one member refuses to be at the right place, this creates an imbalance and all becomes shaky and fragile. In the same way, in the Body of Christ everyone has their place. The hand cannot take the place of the foot and the foot cannot take the place of the hand. Therefore, I cannot be efficient in a place that does not belong to me. We must respect God’s principles and be at the place where we have been positioned by the Lord.
If you find yourself in a dysfunctional family and that you realized that you are not at your place, do not wait for the other person to change. If the Lord enlightened you, go back to the place the Lord gave you initially. As I said before, we cannot be efficient in a position that the Lord did not give us. The husband cannot fulfill the functions of the wife and the wife cannot fulfill the functions of the husband. Concerning the children, they cannot fulfill the function of the parents and the parents those of the children. If you consider that your wife does not fulfill her functions correctly, well, do not linger on her defects. Do not try to remove the speck from her eyes, but look at the plank which is in yours. Start fulfilling your functions as the head of the family.
And if as a wife, you consider that your husband does not fulfill his functions, do not usurp his authority, remain at your place, the one the Lord has assigned you.
Today, I understand why families are unbalanced. In the world, we easily get hurt and troubled, it is normal that people who do not know God find themselves in those kinds of problems. And God forgives. But from the moment we are converted to Christ and that the Lord enlightened us, we have no excuse to remain at a place God has never attributed to us. The Lord can change our hearts if we let Him do so. The family foundation can be rebuilt provided that we allow our Lord to change us. And this starts with repentance.
Coming back to my testimony, the Lord also made me understand that my father could not give me something he himself had not received and that his heart was, among other things, hurt by the fact that he had not received any love from his own parents and which he had not experienced with them. It thus changed the way I perceived my father, and I no longer saw him as a hard and cold man, but as a person who as much as I needed to receive a healing of the heart and to be filled with the Lord’s love.
From that moment, I thought I was doing fine although I was still affected if I happened to hear the story of some people who had lived without the love of their father.
In spite of everything, I still happened to be hard with my father. I had become what I continually accused my father of being: hard and cold. I also remember that one day I was asked what my mother and father had done well for me and I could not find anything to say on my father except that he was a hard-working man!
Eventually, just over a year ago, the Lord allowed this situation: I was crying and distraught, and my father came and comforted me, he hugged me. At that moment, I could only utter this from the bottom of my heart: “forgive me”. He did not understand why I asked him to forgive me so I explained to him that for so long I bore a grudge against him because he had not given me the love I needed. I just felt as a little girl in my father’s arms. I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me too. This was a deliverance for me. Since then, I no longer felt any bitterness nor anger towards him. I know that my father is not perfect and that he needs the love of God because only HIM is able to fill our hearts. Nobody is perfect except Him. So I learnt that deliverance of the heart goes through repentance, first towards God, then by forgiving those who hurt us. But this is not sufficient. We also have to ask forgiveness from those we have hurt in order to be totally delivered from bitterness and anger.
Through my experience, I would simply like to encourage each one of us to stay at his place. I would like to encourage children to show respect to their parents. Even if your parents are hard, continue paying them respect, have a good attitude towards them, honour them.
Parents, do not put aside affection and tenderness towards your children. Hug them, tell them you love them because it is important they feel loved. Do not just focus on education. We must have a balance. Encourage them, help them to grow in the love and fear of the Lord. Show a good example to your children.
Wives, be submissive to your husbands, respect them even if they have difficulties to assume their responsibilities, respect their place as the head of the family, do not take over. Let the Lord change your hearts, do not be hard and quarreling women. Learn to be tender towards your husbands even if they are hard. As the Scriptures says, they can be won by your conduct should it be pure and accompanied with fear of the Lord.
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” 1 Peter 3: 1-2.
Husbands, love your wives, appreciate their value. They are weak vessels; they need love, tenderness, and gentleness. Do not be irresponsible men, uphold your family, defend it, because it is your role to be in the front lines.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” Colossians 3:18-20
I thank the Lord for healing my heart, for teaching me to forgive according to Him and for revealing my faults and sins so that I can repent and ask for forgiveness. I am grateful to the Lord for teaching me how to love every day.
May Jesus be glorified, as it is He and He alone who gives us the strength to forgive because as far as we are concerned, it is impossible to do so ourselves! Forgiveness is truly a power that set you free!
Let us have a sincere heart before Him, let us not pretend and open our hearts to Him.
All the glory, the honour and the majesty be to Him forever!
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.
translated into English by N. and proofread by L.