“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Take care, TCB.” Many of us who love a good, classic song and know parts of our entertainment culture are familiar with the song that include the lyrics above. We also are very familiar with the main topic of the song: respect. This seven-letter word carries various layers and aspects that show us strengths that should be maintained and weaknesses that need to be eliminated.
With these various layers, aspects, and encounters come different interpretations. According to Dictionary.com, respect means to have, “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person….” For some, keeping the definition of respect on one accord with how we actually feel is simple. However, for me, it was a bit more complicated due to the fact that it required me to let things go and move forward, which I honestly did not want to do at the time.
For me, respect and forgiveness were cousins I did not want to reunite. The thought of having to “let go” of so much and show respect to someone I wanted to remind of their mistakes made me mad and frustrated. However, I needed, and I do mean needed, to allow God to teach me about respect because I was using all of this as an excuse and reason to disrespect my mother. I felt I did not owe her anything and that she gotten more than she deserved from me.
In my opinion, if anyone in our home needed to be shown respect and gratitude, it was me. The fact that most of the time I cared for my mother on my own was: A) something I felt I should be praised or “given props” for; and B) another part of my life that I added to my list of grudges against God.
What I failed to remember was that God knows best, and like any good father, He will not lead us to be
and like any good father, He will not lead us to be overwhelmed. He knows what every one of us can handle and will not allow any trials or tribulations to overtake us. Many times, He must either prove to us what we can endure or remind us that He is always by our side. However, at the time, I was sick of being strong because, to me, the benefits did not outweigh the responsibilities.
Truthfully, I felt having endurance was no longer worth it and being “chosen” was not all it was cracked up to be. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I was not thinking of the fact that just like the natural strength in our physical bodies is developed by lifting weights and working out, one’s spiritual strength is developed the same way. The weights may vary from frustration, loneliness, disappointment and other struggles, but the goal is always to allow you to see what God sees and for that potential to become a reality.
Whether it is a strength that you hold or a weakness that you possess, experience is one of God’s greatest tools. Not only will you grow through the test, but you will also be able to aid others. Sadly, everyone does not and will not see this as a positive thing, because it means they are suffering on someone else’s behalf. That requires a spirit of selflessness that is not easy for everyone to acquire. I myself have to press for the spirit of selflessness, not selfishness, to be in control. Looking back on that time, though, my concerns were basically “me, myself, and I”.
Unfortunately, this manifested greatly in how I treated my mother. Between my bitterness toward God and my unforgiveness towards my father, I had an enormous amount of pent up anger, and it was released on the main person around me: my mom. Now, I was upset with her about some of her choices, but rather than that being the sole source of the frustration I expressed, there were various other things fueling that fire.
So, here I was, a young, church-going girl who was pissed with more believers than unbelievers and who had put aside respecting her mother for her own personal feelings. Not only that, but rather than being hit by daily conviction and trying in some way to correct myself, I typically tried to justify my actions.
That is one thing about being intelligent and feeling entitled. Without even recognizing it, you may start making excuses regarding almost any and every thing you do. Scriptures such as, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32, NKJV) at that time were going on the back burner and ones like, “But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,” (Exodus 21:23-24, NLT) were my main focus.
I felt that every smart comment, eye roll, disobedient moment, and disrespectful act was a result of my mom’s (and father’s and God’s) decisions. What I failed to realize at the time was that neither she nor my dad could control God’s plan for my life. All they could do was play their roles in it. I did not understand, or to be brutally honest, I didn’t want to understand, that for something to reach its value there must be cleansing, shaping, and polishing.
Any piece of amber is beautiful, but I doubt many consumers would want to wear it in a piece of jewelry if there has been no cleaning and upkeep. Personally, I did not like God’s process for this jewel, but as Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD” (KJV), and as Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (KJV).
Thankfully, I have progressed (even though I am not perfect) in this area since then. This is why I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that I did not want to hear that, let alone follow it at the time. Why? That answer is simple, yet pointless. I wanted to be in control.
Since I thought I knew everything and could decipher what was best, I subconsciously and consciously began to always desire to have the “say so.” This started regarding God and my life and trickled down to one of the individuals He chose to use to birth me: my mother.
Due to having little shame regarding my behavior back then, I hid this from no one. I was blunt and a bit proud with my actions. This led to many, especially Christians, seeing my disrespectful behavior. I myself did not see much of a problem with it, until people began following simple, yet strong advice: “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This resulted in a mark on me that would truly take washing with the living water to fade.
*From Bigger Than Me by Amber Gardner
It can be purchased at https://bit.ly/2MYj3ao.