We’ve been talking about honour in our home recently. I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago about how it’s even more important to show honour than obedience. Obedience can happen even if the heart is angry, but honour happens when we value someone’s heart, and are motivated to obey by a deep desire to bless others with our actions.
It’s a tricky thing to teach, because it’s a heart thing. Obedience and honour can look the same from the outside, but it’s the unseen that I’m more concerned about – with my kids, and also with myself.
A synonym for obedience is compliance, which can mean simply going through the motions. A synonym for honour is reverence, and to me, this speaks to the fact that each of us is created by God, made in His image, and we honour Him when we value each other.
I was trying to explain all this to Anika one day, and searching for ways to make it easier to understand, when a memory popped into my head. Sometimes it’s easier to understand what honour looks like when we think about what it does not look like, and although there are many sad, horrible examples in the world around us, I thought she’d enjoy my memory.
I was in college, and I met a boy who was convinced we were meant to be together. I did not share his conviction, and although we were friends, there were many reasons why I was not interested in pursuing a relationship with him.
He had a lot of trouble understanding this, and kept asking me out so often, I started keeping track, just for amusement. He reached a total of 17 times, which is a testimony not of my ravishing beauty or charming personality, but rather of his amazing persistence.
I finally asked him why he wanted to date me so badly, and his reasons were as follows: I didn’t have pierced ears (which he considered a rare novelty, for some reason), I had long hair, and it wasn’t long distance to call me.
That was it.
I remember having a very mixed response to this. I thought it was ridiculous, I couldn’t wait to get back to dorm to share this with my friends to give it the mockery it deserved, and deep down, I also felt really… yucky. I felt like an object. I felt like all of who I was – my thoughts and ideas, my sense of humour and creativity, my dreams and fears, joys and sorrows, whatever all combines within me to make me who I am – had been diminished to a phone number. His desire to be with me was based on an area code. He thought I was cheap and convenient. He didn’t really care about me or what I wanted, he didn’t value all of the things that made me Kendra. He did not honour who I truly was.
It’s a pretty harmless example of not being honoured, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this since telling Anika that silly story – about how such a tiny example of being devalued still affected me. And yet, how many times in a day do I not value people around me, even in the smallest ways?
When I’m in a rush to get to an appointment, and I don’t want to let someone into my lane because I don’t “have time” – I forget there is a person driving that car, who is living a life, like me. They are not randomly driving their car around the city of Winnipeg just for fun. They also have places they need to be, a schedule I’m completely unaware of.
When I brush off someone’s opinion because it’s different than mine – or even get offended by the things they say – I forget they are on a journey, like me. They go through stuff, they feel things, they have their own junk to work through, and things that make them happy or sad. They have reasons for thinking the way they do, and I forget to find out what the story is behind those reasons.
The grumpy clerk, or the annoying salesperson is living a life, and they didn’t get up that morning with the intent of making my life frustrating. They have their own frustrations – can I honour them in the way I treat them?
I once had someone try to sell me something that was supposed to change my life. It was going to fix all my problems. Only problem was, they didn’t take enough time to actually understand what my problems were, or what I had already tried. They had the answer, but they didn’t listen to my questions. They didn’t wait long enough to hear my whole story, or to understand this crazy journey I’ve been on. It made me not want to listen to them, because I didn’t feel like my experiences were valued.
I want to learn how to honour people. I want to value where they are, where they’ve been, and where they dream of going. Anytime these things are forgotten, things start to fall apart.
I’m trying to pray about that – to start my day with asking God to show me how I can honour my family, or the people I come in contact with throughout the day.
There are so many examples in the news and in the world around us of ways in which people are being devalued. Things are a mess, but I wonder if the first little step to take is remembering the life behind the person, and looking for the smallest ways to show honour.
I found this quote which seemed to sum it up well:
Maybe we just need to take a little more time to see the other person’s heart, and honour what we see.