Studies show that repressed anger or unresolved conflicts with your biological parent/s result to displacement of anger or redirection of emotional damages (like hurts, fear, frustration, rejection, abandonment) onto targets who are not responsible for it. Therefore, “Hurt people hurt people” isn’t just a saying; it is a scientific theory, even a Biblical truth.
Our direct authorities (i.e., our parents) are God-given. We didn’t choose them and they didn’t choose us either. It is God who gives life and establishes direct authorities. Our parents do not get in the way of God’s plans for us; they are God’s plans for us. Further, honoring our parents is the only command with a promise (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2) and obeying our parents is repeatedly stated in the Bible (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20, Jeremiah 35:18-19, Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2).
So conflicts or unresolved matters between us and our parent/s are obvious defiances against God’s will (regardless of how small or big, obvious or not obvious it is).
But it’s not your fault, you might say?
I grew up with an unresolved and withheld bitterness against my parents. I silently blamed my father for leaving us for another family when my sister and I were still young, and I subtly blamed my mother for allowing it to happen. I hated their decisions and their responses to the situations that they themselves dug into. I hated how their own doings led to a domino-effect of inward and outward consequences.
I grew up insecure and unconsciously, it led me to be inappropriately and disproprotionately be frustrated with people (either in silent grumbling or slander) who don’t deserve it, and I tried to fill-in that insecurity with academic and athletic accomplishments, pathological lying, a people-pleasing attitude, and even romantic relationships.
I was like a walking stack of swords. It was either I won’t let you come close to me because I know you’ll get hurt or I will let you get close to me and just end-up unknowingly stabbing or slicing you. Deep inside, however, I was broken and wounded — like I needed to be free from such swords.
Many of us are like walking stacks of swords without knowing it. We are all broken and wounded and it’s only a matter of identifying our own faults before a Holy God that we realise we can’t point fingers.
When I became a Christian, new to a personal relationship with God, I was still in a never-ending cycle of conflicts with my mom. I would constantly leave our house so I could distance myself away from her because I knew that it was just emotionally-consuming to deal with it. Many times I even said how impossible it is to be with my mom without any drama.
But God used that never-ending cycle of conflicts with my parent/s as a point of breakthrough in the beginning of my walk with Jesus.
The woman discipling me, about two years ago, invited me to her home for a “Break Free” session. It is basically a session of me surrendering things including sins and bondages to the Lord. In one portion of the session, she told me to write down the names of the people who’ve hurt me. She told me to pray to God and tell God how I was hurt or what made me think I was hurt. She also directed me to God’s word regarding releasing forgiveness to these people.
On top of the list was my father and mother. I won’t forget that late afternoon when I uttered forgiveness to my parents and yes, even to myself for being a rebellious daughter to them. I told God how it happened, how I was hurt and I asked Him to free me from the hurts. Obviously, I was shaking in tears even while ripping that sheet of paper.
Few months after that, a major conflict with my mom happened. It was so complicated that my sister and I had to make an immediate decision to get out of our house and look for a place to stay. It was so emotionally traumatizing because of all the words, including curses, that were thrown back and forth.
God used the woman who is discipling me to help me, my sister and my mom to reconcile. Thinking about it now, I realize how bold the faith of my discipler is. It was probably the longest five hours of our lives. But it was also one of the most memorable situations in the beginning of my walk with Christ.
In the midst of curses and deep-seated anger, differences and right to self, the Holy Spirit intervened. It was such an impossible conflict to solve but He really powerfully touched our hearts in unimaginable ways. After that intense five hours, our family experienced reconciliation in our relationships.
Of course, we still experience family conflicts today. A breakthrough isn’t a one-time event; it is a process — even double-checked or triple-checked until surpassed and until molded to Christlikeness. The difference now, however, is that we, by God’s grace, aren’t treating conflicts carnally anymore. We face it in prayer.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of understanding how Jesus did ministry if God, in the first place, did not reveal to me the need to reconcile with my direct authorities.
Jesus did not give up on loving me just because I wasn’t loving Him in return. In fact, He persevered up to the point of death just for me. The humble and selfless character of our Savior reminds us that it’s not about who is at fault and who suffered more; it’s about God’s love and His desire for reconciliation.
And so we are called to bear with each other and forgive one another even in the midst of grievances. We are called to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). We are called to resolve our hurts before it hurts others.
If you know someone who has been knowingly/ unknowingly/ directly/ slanderously hurting people, care enough to ask about his or her relationship with his or her parent/s.
Before targetting or attacking his or her behavior, understand that there is a high probability that he or she has an unresolved conflict or repressed anger toward his or her parent/s.
I also had mistakenly taken things against people before understanding where they are coming from. Many times, I took offence towards the betrayal of people without understanding that it’s not about me. Hurting back hurt people who hurt you is like banging your head against the wall — you’ll just kill yourself without resolving anything.
Pray for that person and his or her family instead. Help that person by leading him or her to Jesus. Although it is not an overnight process and it will involve a lot of “dying-to-self”, forgiveness and reconciliation are God’s expertise.
If you are that person, know that God’s grace is not bounded by emotional damages, repressed anger or unresolved conflicts. He so loves you and your parent/s that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And yes, you can forgive your parents.