Have you noticed? Whether it’s social media, news channels, your neighbors, or even the Disney channel, it seems like yelling and disrespect have become the norm.
Our homes, our neighborhoods and workplaces have become a war zone. So with the recent death of Aretha Franklin, I thought it may be a good time to put a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T back in our conversations. Respect for others is quickly becoming a counter cultural way of approaching relationships which makes me incredibly sad. I introduced this topic at a recent class I was teaching, and you could have heard a pin drop. Faces looked back at me with confusion and doubt and a barrage of questions erupted. “What?” “Respect?” “No way!” “After what they’ve done to me?” “You’ve got to be kidding!” “He doesn’t DESERVE my respect!”
My proposal in class that day was a difficult one- UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT for others. Yes, I said unconditional respect regardless of who they are or what they have done to you. That was a difficult pill to swallow for many that day and maybe for you as you read this right now. Your mind may be fixed on that ex-spouse who cheated on you, or the dad who walked out on your family. We all have people in our lives that we may be tempted to think do NOT deserve our respect, but I disagree.
Treating others with unconditional respect does not mean you become a doormat or ignore the unhealthy behavior of others. People still need to suffer consequences for their illegal or immoral actions, but my challenge to you is that disrespect should not be one of them. It’s still important to have healthy boundaries with unhealthy people. I’m not saying to follow or trust the person who has hurt you, but I am saying there is a better way for you and your emotional health. There is a better way to approach people and situations without building walls and or piling on contempt and hostility. No matter WHAT the other person does or says, YOU can still choose to treat others with dignity and respect. It builds character and integrity inside YOU regardless of how the receiver responds, or what they’ve done to you.
NOT A NEW IDEA
Unconditional respect is not a new concept. It’s actually a biblical one. (1 Peter 2:17, Matthew 7) Don’t believe in God or the Bible? Could I suggest to you that unconditional respect toward others is still the healthiest way to go in relationships? Look at what the alternative is doing to our communities, schools, and homes. Respect that must be “earned”? I personally believe that disrespect and contempt is the poison Satan is using to slowly destroy relationships in our homes, schools, and communities. When we hold on to bitterness, unforgiveness, and disrespect toward others, it actually puts US in bondage. True peace and freedom are found only when we offer unconditional respect to others. Could this be why your heart and your home are in chaos?
You might be asking, “What if someone has hurt me?” “Won’t that let them off the hook?” This has nothing to do with a person’s worthiness but everything to do with your character and your approach. God is still holding you accountable for your response. Let Him take care of the rest.
GIVE IT A TRY
Speaking to someone with respect quickly breaks down walls and softens hearts for both the giver and the receiver. I’ve seen it with my husband. I’ve seen it with my friends and coworkers. I’ve seen it most recently with our three adopted children.
There are days as a working mom when I find myself on edge. Barking orders disrespectfully may get the task accomplished in the moment, but it also builds walls. Putting my husband down in front of his family or friends may get a laugh at the table but undermines the incredible relationship God has planned for us. Responding to the policeman pulling you over with a respectful “yes, sir” instead of an obscenity will always be the better option. But that’s not what our kids are seeing these days from us.
Do you get my point? Stop buying what society is selling. Stop believing the lie that RESPECT is something to be “earned”. Give it away unconditionally and see how God sets your heart free.