There are always people that we never understand. We don’t get how they think or how they can keep making the same decisions or doing the same actions over and over again.
I can struggle with making respectful comments about these people. I guess I think I’m making a joke or simply an observation – but it’s hurtful, and not only to that person if they hear me, but also to our relationship because of my negative thoughts about that person.
This is a lot like respecting our husbands, ya know? Our thoughts, our jokes – they all impact our relationship with our husbands.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I suddenly saw ways in which intentional respect applied to not only my marital relationship, but to the other relationships in my life. But I was.
As I continue to work on respect, I am reminded again and again that working on this discipline is about doing what God says, even when it doesn’t make sense to me in the moment.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11
My husband is a great model of this discipline. I will start to make a joke or talk about someone and how I don’t understand them and he will encourage me. Or say something like this:
“Leah, when are you going to stop staring at the tree and wondering why it is so tree-like?”
So instead of winding down the slippery slope of out-loud wondering of why people are how they are, why not try stepping back and learn to appreciate something about the tree – its leaves, its shade.
Or instead of having an internal dialogue and back and forth over all the things that they could do or be differently, acknowledge ways in which they do the best that they can, how they love you, and want to be loved.
I dare you today to think of another person in your life who could benefit from respect that comes from you. Think of a list of things you love and respect about this person, that way, when you are tempted to say something negative, you are ready with a positive list. I dare you also to shoot them a text or email with a respectful comment in it.
Why do you think it seems harder/bigger/stranger to extend respect to people outside of our marriages? Or is it easier to respect others and harder to respect inside of our marriages? What do you think? Would you share in the comments?
[Originally posted June 2013. Post edited November 2015.]