Respect: “to value and regard highly; treating someone with importance.”
I’ll let you in on my secret blogging/writing style of world. I write a ton. I post a little. I keep certain posts ruminating for awhile, and sometimes they sit in my draft box for months awaiting my decision to hit the final delete or post. It’s all a gamble for the words that pound out on this keyboard. Ha. This is my last post for this series on our emotional needs, and ironically today I saw that I began this particular series a year ago. I began this one on respect, and it has sat in my draft box since May. With all the tragedy, sadness, and turmoil of late, I have been thinking often about this emotional need of respect that God placed in our souls. That He placed deep, deep, set in our core this need for respect. The need to give, and the need to receive respect.
When I began to think about what all respect is, and what it looks like in our lives, I decided to poll a couple of my guys and I asked them, “When do you feel respected”… and this is the results:
9 year old: “When someone treats me like they treat all the other people that they like.”
11 year old: “When they include me with what they’re doing, and give me the chance to be like everyone else to them.”
Amazing how well they summarized and brought to life the definition for me. I thought, that’s so right-on! I just want to be treated as valuable as the next guy. The more I thought about these definitions the more I thought about those who feel the entire world has disrespected them at times, and the days that I have in this life felt disrespected.
In the face of the injustice and unfairness we get angry. We feel the disrespect and we hurt. Especially when we build up the courage to speak up, and we aren’t heard in our pain, or even worse when others who don’t understand what we’ve been through, make statements of how we need our “thinking fixed” in this way, or that. And we cry out, you don’t even know what my pain is like! You don’t even know what my pathway looks like, and you don’t even begin to listen before you try to fix me. Or judge me. Or criticize me.
And the disrespect is felt all the heavier.
I’ve seen time after time the hurting finally speak up… and then they are made to feel like the “bad guy.” How sad. Why can’t we listen? Why can’t we empathize? Why can’t we give respect and know that if we haven’t been in their shoes, all we can do is listen and express that what you say is important! We might not always agree, or understand, but we can listen and seek to find some common ground. We can desire to have a new perspective from another set of eyes. Disagreeing is not disrespect! Not fully understanding is not disrespect. Refusing to listen, and choosing not to value what another has to say is disrespect. Refusing to think about and work to help protect another from injustice is disrespect.
As Atticus said in one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
We really don’t take time to do that, do we? Instead, we see through our own filters, cultures, life experiences and allow our mentalities to see through only our own point of view…
We say that we want to hear our loved ones thoughts, but then balk when it concerns something we’ve done wrong, or might need to think through a change. “How dare you suggest I need to change! It’s you!” We read the newspaper and question why the date rape victim did not fight back more, “Well, that wouldn’t have happened to me. I have more fight in me, than her.” We don’t get why the young lady who has had years of abuse is so quiet and to herself, “She’s just outright stuck up. Must be because she thinks she’s better than me.” We downplay people’s cries for equality, “Well, don’t they realize they’ve already got it?! Why can’t they just move on?” We see the homeless man wandering the streets, and think, “Get a job, man.”
Really, have we been in their skin? Have we walked in their shoes?
We truly can have respect. But, we must be intentional, and prayerful, and looking through God’s eyes of value for you, and for me, and for the us, and for the we. For the little, and the big, and for the hurting, and the happy, for those hidden, and those exposed, for the them, and for the they. For His all.
Some basic ways to show respect….
May look like:
- Listening without interrupting
- Appropriate tone of voice and body language.
- Asking before taking or borrowing something that doesn’t belong to you.
- Not encroaching on another’s personal space without permission.
- Appreciating other’s efforts.
- Checking before making plans that affect others.
- Confessing wrong.
- Keeping your commitments.
- Making effort to learn about their perspective.
May sound like: “I’d like to hear your ideas.” “Which do you prefer?” “I was wrong… will you forgive me?”
I’m weary of my heart disrespected others. I’m weary of disrespect and slander that I see others imposing on each other. I’m purposing to value and regard all life as equally valuable and equally important. Let’s purpose that together? Because, the truth is… We are.
All precious in His sight.
References: Center for Relational Care, MacMillan Dictionary (2015); Abraham Maslow; Robert McGee; The Bible (Genesis 1:27, Romans 10:12, 1 Samuel 16:7, Ephesians 4:32, 1 Peter 3:18-22, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, (1960).