“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone.” – 1 Peter 2:16-17a
If JUSTICE is what LOVE looks like in public, according to Mr. Cornel West, I say RESPECT is what LOVE can be to other people, most especially, enemies or anybody who have hurt us for that matter. RESPECT is what anybody can use to replace ANGER in their hearts.
I was reading a few pages today from “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian, a beautiful wedding gift from our Ninong Dodie & Ninang Lalaine Pereña, when I got stuck with the word “respect” and how I have been living my life with it for almost thirty years now. I have realized that just by choosing to be silent and NOT humiliate any person who have wronged us not only humbles us but shows great respect for others. I have quite a few experiences to share how this can be possible.
RESPECT FOR ELDERS
Whether you’re thinking about your parents or other family members, or just an elderly person walking down the street or waiting for a bus ride at a terminal, what do you think respecting elders mean? Yeah I have shown respect to elders who were not related to me. I think that’s the easiest part. But what if the challenge for you is to show respect to your parents who choose not to give respect to their children? Does that give children the right to disrespect their parents? I have a lot of friends who have different difficult experiences with parents, including mine, and of course I can only share my experience. The thing is I am one of those people who have very dramatic childhood experiences with parents and only my closest friends (who respect my parents by the way) know the exact details. Yes, parents can hurt their children too. Whether they hurt them physically, mentally or emotionally, parents can cause a very deep hurt among their children. Maybe one of my experience that I can openly share with you is when I was in fourth year high school (secondary education). I was 15 or 16 years old then and was hardly working on a term paper that I needed to submit the next day when my parents were fighting behind me, throwing off things at each other, fax machine, telephone unit, and anything their hands were able to hold on to, while cursing each other with the most hurtful words you can think of to say to a partner. I was literally crying while I type my paper but kept my heart strong and was praying that I wouldn’t fail in my studies so I could get a job just in case my parents ended up killing each other and I will be the only one left to feed my younger siblings. Anybody who’s hurting tend to somehow think of just themselves, how they feel and not care about anything or anybody around them at that particular moment. I’ve had these moments. So did my parents. We can say that parents who choose to fight in front of their children is a form of disrespect, not thinking of the possible effect on the children, but will never be considered as enough reason for children to disrespect their parents. In my case, I chose to respect them as parents in these situations by being silent, while hurting and crying, only talked when asked, and only uttered the words “Mommy, Daddy, enough” while crying and looking after my younger siblings.
RESPECT FOR OTHERS (most especially for those who have wronged you)
In my whole life, I got involved in an actual fight twice, because I needed to defend loved ones who couldn’t fight for themselves. I was around 9 or 10 years old in the first one and kicked a boy on his groin area because he threatened my little brother that he’s going to hurt him. I stood up for my little brother right away. I was 12 years old when I’ve had my second and last actual fight with a 16-year old girl who was like a foot and a half bigger than me. It wasn’t really my fight but was my best friend’s fight. I was just with her when suddenly they were already fighting physically and saw the big girl punching my best friend on the head. I stood up for my friend, went in and tried to stop them when I found my hair being pulled by a big 16-year old girl. I tried to punch her but I couldn’t reach her face. I kept on thinking how I can stop her from all the crazy things so I just kept on pinching her chest, the only thing I could reach in front of me, hoping I could make her stop but didn’t. Fortunately, the fight got big enough to make a scandal in the whole neighborhood so our families came running to us and saved the day. This was the fight that made me swear I wouldn’t let myself get involved in another situation, that I can always do better with my good intentions. There was a girl who wanted to fight with me when I was I think in 2nd year high school because of envy but I chose to talk to her instead so we can have peace. We made peace but we never became friends. I grew up with this mindset to keep peace as much as I can no matter how other people try to hurt or ruin me with their backstabbing words and deeds. I can choose to respect them even if they don’t respect me. As I grew older and live a life in the corporate world, I realized that there are more judgmental people, who wouldn’t blink an eye when they backstab you or ruin you and hurt you so they can get you out of their way and bring you down. They call this crab mentality. I’ve met different kinds already from one company to another and I know that wherever I go, I would meet another kind. I always try to humble myself and not fight back as much as I can. For whatever reason, no matter how I want to keep peace and not pick a fight, I guess there are people who wouldn’t stop until they see you completely out of their way. My close colleagues from previous companies who know me well and know the truth have told me the same things, fight back or at least defend myself. I chose RESPECT. At least by not saying anything bad about the other person to other people, no matter how hurt I am, would show respect. And knowing that I am not perfect and also bound for limitations and weaknesses, I leave, at least before I lose all of my patience and peace that I’ve been trying to build all my life. I always tell myself that the enemy can always try to hurt me and bring me down but the peace that I get from showing respect instead of anger and leaving or running away from evil temptations cannot be taken away from me. I later on realized when I became a Christian that the peace in me was God’s voice telling me how I should live this life His way and no other way. Respect has become my form of forgiveness.
RESPECT FOR PEOPLE YOU’VE HURT
Given that we’re not perfect, we’re bound to hurt others as well no matter how much we try not to. We may or may not know it, or we were doing it for immature or mature reasons that we couldn’t comprehend until the actual issue is already in front of us waiting to be ignited or has already exploded. Now I must repeat that anybody who’s hurting tend to somehow think of just themselves, how they feel and not care about anything or anybody around them at that particular moment. I’ve had these moments. So did other people that I’ve hurt. One other thing that I chose to do aside from pray and ask forgiveness is that I also chose to give respect. Letting them be and allowing them to get hurt without defending or justifying your actions while you ask for forgiveness, whether they choose to give it now or later, show great respect for others. Even if the people that you’ve hurt chose to destroy you after and have their revenge by ruining you publicly, whether they’re telling the truth or not, they’re hurt. They will try to explain why and how much they’re hurt and shout to the world that they don’t deserve any of it, even if you’re getting hurt in the process and the person you’ve hurt have unnoticeably turned the situation upside down, respect is something you can still give after praying and asking for forgiveness, just by being silent and still, keeping your peace.
RESPECT FOR LOVED ONES (Disclaimer: I asked my husband to review my blog and asked for his permission first before I posted this blog. Respect. ♥)
Maybe some of you will notice why I separated the parts where you give respect for others and respect for loved ones. I felt that I needed to separate the “others” who are considered not as close to our hearts as our “loved ones”. Based on observations, I realized that most of the time, it is harder for people to give respect back to our loved ones who have hurt or wronged us. Simply because the damage is greater and deeper. But this doesn’t change the need to still give respect, most especially to our loved ones who need respect from us the most. Me and my husband have been thru a lot of difficulties already, from the time that we started our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, engagement stage and until we got married. Maybe our experiences were not as many as those who have been together for 10 or 25 years now but I’m sure they’re considered difficult. The thing is no matter how much my husband has hurt me in the past, or hurt me now and maybe in the future, respect is still something that I can choose to give to my husband no matter how hurt I am or how much hurt I get. Showing respect for my husband can be as simple as not humiliating him in front of other people, by keeping our fights within ourselves, the two of us, and not involving others as much as possible. There were times that we got friends involved but those were his choices. After a while he learned that our fights and disagreements must remain within our walls. He learned to keep that. I respect my husband in such a way that his imperfections need not to be heard or seen by others, most especially if there are already people who misjudged him in the past and ruined him by talking about his mistakes publicly and make fun of him. A man’s self-esteem, once tramped deeply and crushed his heart, do not need to be crumpled all over again especially if he already knows his mistakes. I respect my husband, the love of my life, in such a way that I will not let the enemy use me and my words to destroy him in front of others. I can get hurt and cry in front of him really hard and tell him how much he’s hurt me but I will never cry in front of other people about my husband and rant about his mistakes and how he’s hurt me. I respect and love him enough to not give other people a reason to judge him and see him any other way than how God made me see him thru His eyes.
There may be times before that I was able to share our stories and issues with our closest friends but not because of “vengeful” or “anger” intentions. But because we’re blessed with caring friends whom God used to get in the way to help us, love us enough to initiate communication with us in a way that we can both share trustfully and share issues that we won’t be able to fix on our own. These friends who will love you no matter how imperfect you are and who will not judge you no matter how many times you fail, I consider faces and hands of God in the midst of our challenges.
Any living thing in the world, from animals to environment, men and women, aside from Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, wants and deserves RESPECT, as much as how God loves us.
RESPECT IS WHAT LOVE CAN BE WHEN YOU’RE WEAK AND HURT. If we can’t love everybody as much as how God loves us because we’re hurt, we can choose to give respect instead, and love later on unnoticeably. ♥
“God will bring to judgement both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:17, NIV
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13b-14, NIV