Jesus frees mother from the guilt of filial piety
C exuded little joy as a Christian for 20 years, as she continued to carry many burdens from her Korean family of origin, particularly from her mother. As she sought the Holy Spirit’s counsel, He showed her the spirit of heaviness that had plagued her all her life had come through ungodly soul ties to her mother, as a result of the Asian philosophy of filial piety. As she repented, C felt released to be childlike before God and approach Him as her Heavenly Father. Praise God!
It’s been many years that I had been feeling heavy.
A sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness have been dominant emotions.
People I envy are the ones who seem joyful or playful. The question I regularly wrestled with was, “If the Holy Spirit is with me, am I not supposed to bear the fruit of joy too?”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I was born and raised in Korea. My parents were hard working and sacrificial for our family.
My father lost his father at the age of 10. As the eldest son, he diligently carried out his traditional duty to take care of his family of origin, as well as his own family, even after marriage. As a result, my grandmother, my aunt, and a cousin, who weren’t financially independent, used to live together with my family in the same house under my father’s protection. He was the only bread winner. This created a lot issues within the family, financially and relationally.
While I was growing up, I heard many negative things about my family and relatives. From my perspective, my parents tried their best to fulfil their traditional duty to take care of the family, yet they always ended up in a place of victims. I particularly empathised a lot with my mother in her anger and I also grew in anger toward everyone who offended my mother. I wanted to protect her.
Eventually, I became distant from my family members and relatives.
I became a Christian about 20 years ago. Yet it was always difficult to distinguish between ‘honouring parents’ biblically versus ‘practising filial piety’ traditionally.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)
Seven year ago, when I was struggling in my depression, I joined an intensive Bible study. While we were studying about Jesus, I received an assurance of healing from depression. As I continued diving into the Bible study, God began to teach me. Sometimes, He rebuked me about my wrongdoing, such as hating people. He also comforted me when I was lonely and brokenhearted through His Word and His people.
In this process of seeking God, He revealed my sin and He invited me to the path of forgiveness.
As I grew in knowing His Word, a new perspective about past events was created in my heart. I was able to slowly drop my judgments of my family members. I was able to see that each of them had a reason to be the way they were.
Ironically, the reason for my hatred and bitterness toward my family members was love for my mother. I saw it as a righteous reason that justified my hatred for a very long time, but God’s Word opened my eyes. He led me to see that it was a blinding and destructive excuse. I am to love them no matter what, because judging them is not my business, but God’s.
The more I repented and forgave, the freer I was from my anger and from depression.
However, my sadness and the sense of heaviness didn’t go away. I tried to find out the source of these feelings, and I came to a realisation that I have been playing the role of a parent to my mother by trying to protect her, to guide her, and to correct her.
But, I also discovered that I could not bear hearing her negative comments about other people anymore. I had to learn about setting a healthy boundary but I didn’t know how to.
I prayed and asked God to take care of my mother because she is His child, not mine. But I continued to struggle with a sense of guilt.
A voice rose inside of me asking if I am not neglecting my duty to take care of my mother.
One day, while I was praying with a friend, she told me to ask the Holy Spirit what I needed to pray about. As I asked, three words came to my mind, “yoke, burden, and light(weight).”
My friend asked me if I have been carrying a burdened yoke that I am not supposed to carry. My answer was yes.
I have been carrying my mother’s wounds and pain and let my heart ache boundlessly. I also felt hopeless and helpless whenever I saw how she and her situation didn’t improve, no matter how hard I had been trying to help.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)
We prayed together to break the ungodly yoke and soul ties that I have been taking on from my mother.
I lifted up my mother to Jesus as she belongs to Him, not to me. I chose to yoke myself with Jesus, so that my mother can do the same. I laid down this ungodly burden and I trusted that He will teach me how to love my mother and walk alongside her in His new way, which will be life-giving to myself and to her as well.
My friend also reminded me of my identity as a child of God, who is hidden in Christ Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly realms.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)
This made my heart rejoice as I imagined myself approaching God in a new way, which is a child-like way.
Instead of trying to show my earthly filial piety to God with a heavy-hearted desire to fulfil my duties for Him, I will approach His throne of grace with joy and confidence that He is my Father, who can parent me and protect me as I have always dreamed of.
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