Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Power of Honour

As a teacher, I have many encounters with people of totally different backgrounds, personalities, beliefs, and viewpoints.  I don't always see eye-to-eye with them and may disagree not only with what they are saying, but with how they are treating me.  Times like these, I realize not only how important honour is, but the immensity of the power it contains as well.

First, think of the spirit of retribution.  Someone wrongs you, you wrong that person in kind.  A real life, but sad, example is of gang wars.  I hear in the news or see it portrayed in shows how a gang member will be injured by a rival gang, which leads to retribution for the injured member, which sparks what seems to be a never-ending feud.  When does it end?  When there's no one left to carry on the retribution??  Does revenge actually accomplish anything positive or does its partakers only reap negative rewards?

Sticking with the teacher example, there will be times that I am angered and hurt by the words/actions of a parent or even a co-worker.  My first instinct is to be defensive and find ways to "put them in their place." However, I can stand up for myself while still remaining humble and retaining a spirit of honour.  When I choose to lay aside my rights to lambaste them (in the most tactful, discreet way possible of course ;-)), and instead, choose to honour and seek ways to work with them in rectifying the problem, positive rewards come from those choices.

Honour means to greatly respect, regard, or esteem someone.  I propose that honour starts with our relationship with God.  When we have that intimacy with Christ and know our identities in Him, we are better equipped for being who He's called us to be.  It won't always be easy, but I believe that honouring others, whether or not they deserve it, honours God above all.  Instead of seeking only to get my own way, I can value others and their input.  I esteem them and the relationship more than being right.

As I seek to build a culture of honour in my classroom and with my students' parents, as well as in all other areas of my life, I believe that honour fosters more honour.  When people feel valued, they are more likely to drop their defenses and desire to work with you in coming to a solution that both parties feel is acceptable.  And the best part, is that God is honoured in the process of figuring out the problem.  Seek to honour in all circumstances, with all people, and see what God does!  Honour does not mean being a doormat, but rather, being God's diplomat.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Importance of Honour

The topic of honour has been on my heart for a few years now.  I believe it is incredibly important to live a life of honour for God and others.  Even things that seem relatively harmless such as jokes that highlight stereotypes (sayings that indicate that men are dumb and lazy or that women are a ball and chain in marriage or constant nags) are harmful.  These types of attitudes are damaging.

As a woman, the more I hear how men are inconsiderate buffoons, the more that influences my thinking towards them.  In addition, when I see and hear constant examples of how women are emotionally manipulative, irrational, and critical, the more I believe that is normal, even to be expected of me.  It lessens my standard for myself in how I relate to others.

However, God has called me to a higher standard than the world's normal.  When I allow myself to indulge in stereotypical mindsets, I am selling myself and others short.  I am also not choosing to see others or myself as God does.  

God knows that we as humans are not perfect.  However, when Jesus died on the cross, He died for the forgiveness of all sins of all time.  That means that when I choose to accept the free gift of salvation and live for God instead of myself, I am forgiven, both now and for any future sins I commit.  Now don't get me wrong, this forgiveness is not an excuse to do whatever I want, but rather, it removes the shame and guilt of sin from my life.  It gives me hope that I am going to become more and more like Christ as I trust and obey Him.

When God looks at me, as His beloved child, He doesn't see all the ugliness in me.  I find that I tend to be my worst critic and dwell on all that I've done wrong.  When I ask for forgiveness, Jesus' blood covers over all my sins.  Yes, He will sometimes highlight areas of my life where I am not trusting or obeying Him, but it's not to bring condemnation.  Rather, He encourages me with the promise that He will walk with me in becoming more like Him in that area of weakness. What God now sees is the gold that He has placed within me.  He calls out that gold and inspires me to become all that He has called me to be.

Now, when I look at myself, I ask God for His perspective.  I find that His truth really does set me free (John 8:32)!  I used to be afraid of what He would say about me, but I now know that when He speaks to me, He always brings hope.  He helps me see the areas that He is working in.  He tells me that He's proud of me and He shows me my worth in Him.  This perspective is a far cry from what the world would say about me.  Their unrealistic and damaging standard says that I must look or act a certain way to be accepted.  I am not honouring God if I follow the world's standard instead of His for my life.  

In addition, if I choose to accept the world's perspective of men and women, then I am not choosing to honour God's creation.  Yes, others will disappoint and even hurt me.  However, that still is not an excuse for dishonouring them through gossip, negative perspectives of them, or sarcastic put-downs.  God wants me to go beyond the natural and ask Him for His viewpoint.  Once I am seeing them through His eyes, I can focus on the gold that He has placed there (even if it seems to be buried verrryyyyy deep).  I can choose to honour them even when they don't deserve it.  

There is incredible blessing in living a life of honour.  It isn't an easy road to take as it can go against natural instincts as well as making us feel uncomfortable at times.  I have begun to see the blessing that comes from honouring God and others though.  Deeper, more loving, and meaningful connections are being made.  My heart is to inspire hope and Godly vision through the words I speak and the way I interact with others.  As I call out the gold in those that God has placed in my life, treating them as Jesus would, I hope to see lives changed.  Look at what happened when Jesus called out the gold in Peter.  He called Peter a solid rock in Matthew 16:18 when Peter wasn't even there yet (he later denied Christ three times).  However, as Jesus continued to call out that gold, Peter's life was transformed.

May my thoughts, words, and actions have such a powerful effect!  I choose to honour rather than take the easy way out and be critical of someone.  I know that I won't always get it right and will make mistakes, but I know that God is bigger than my weaknesses.  He will give me strength to pick myself up (or remove my foot from my mouth), make things right, and take another step in becoming more like Christ.  I can't wait to see what God continues to do in and through me as I honour those around me!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Emotion is Not a Weakness

I'm a pretty even-keeled gal.  Yes, I experience emotions, but it doesn't take me too long to return to a sense of equilibrium.  In fact, I've tended to pride myself on my levelheadedness and being a more logical person. Whenever I did feel emotional, I would feel disgusted with myself and ashamed if the emotional state-of-being lasted too long.  I had seen too many examples of women using emotion as a tool of manipulation and an excuse for making poor choices.  They seemed to be living in a never-ending state of chaos, playing the role of the victim, and didn't seem to be enjoying life all that much.  That existence was the last thing I wanted.

However, when things ended recently with a man I had been getting to know, I was shocked by how hard that blow hit me.  I knew it would hurt, but I was more emotional than I have ever been before, possibly in my entire life.  It wouldn't be fair to pin it all on him as there has been some other pretty significant events that had happened in my life shortly before, including my parents' separation, that had majorly contributed to my emotional upheaval.

I didn't understand why things happened the way they did and I was feeling pretty down.  As days and weeks went by, I was surprised that I was still feeling emotional from time-to-time.  This was not normal behaviour for me.  One thing I did notice a strange way, it felt good to "really feel."  I was connecting with my experiences in a way I had never done before.  And I wasn't despondent.  I still had hope, knowing that God was so much bigger than all of these negative circumstances in my life.

Looking back, although I don't like how certain situations came about or were handled, I can see the good that God has brought from everything.  I no longer feel ashamed or despise the times when I am emotional (or at least I'm working on that one).  I recognize that I am human and God knows how I am made.  His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  So when I feel weak, that is the perfect opportunity for God to do what He does best: empowering me so that I can be more than a conqueror in Christ.

Allowing myself to experience emotion while claiming God's truth in my situation enables me to truly experience life.  Being sensitive can be a good thing, as long as I don't use sensitivity as a crutch for not dealing with my own insecurities or issues.  I don't have to be ashamed of a tender heart.  God made me this way and instead of fighting against that, I can embrace it and let God give me grace to live in a way worthy of Him and His calling on my life.

Feeling a depth of emotion adds more colour to life in a good way.  My relationships can be deepened with others, especially with God, because I am loving them with more than just my mind.  My whole heart is involved.  It might open the door to hurt and pain, but in my opinion, that is a risk worth taking.  Great love takes great risk and my relationships with others and God are too important to only give a portion of myself.  I look forward to seeing the beauty that comes from loving deeply!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dying to Desire

I recently went through a very disappointing situation where I was getting to know someone, thinking it was going somewhere, only to have it come to a crashing halt.  I respect the fact that we weren't as compatible as originally thought, but it hurt...A have that dream ripped from my hands.  Through getting to know this man, I had finally begun to allow myself to dream again about what could be.

My desire is to get married and have a family.  As I get older, that desire only increases, especially after seeing other friends, family, and people I grew up with starting their own families.  I also have to ignore that irritating biological clock that tells me I'm getting closer to 30 and how can I ever expect to be able to have a few kids of my own if I don't start soon.  Valentine's Days, birthdays, and other special occasions march on year after year without a significant other to share those moments with me.

After this most recent setback to my lack of a love life, I really struggled with my desires and what my reality is.  In my conversations (sometimes more of a rant) with God, I felt like He was been bringing the story of Abraham and Isaac to mind, found in Genesis 22.  Abraham had been given this amazing promise of a son in his old age and that he will be the father of nations.  No one will be able to count Abraham's descendants.  However, when this dream finally seems to be coming into fruition, Abraham is told to sacrifice his son.  I can't begin to fathom the courage and faith it took Abraham to do this, but he was fully prepared to do so.  He trusted that somehow, someway, the fulfillment of God's promise was bigger than him or Isaac.  Whether God would bring Isaac back to life, provide an alternative sacrifice, or some other means of fulfilling His promise, Abraham's hope was in God, not Isaac.

Being married is a gift I look forward to enjoying one day.  Having someone to share life with and to walk through life's many joys and sorrows together.  Being stronger and better together than we could be apart.  Becoming more of who we should be as individuals because of our unity.  I fully recognize that it will take work to make a marriage great, but with God as the foundation, I believe anything is possible!

Ultimately, I believe that God has placed this desire in my heart and I have a promise of what is yet to be.  I don't understand why things happened the way they did with that man I was getting to know, but I do know that God is bigger than the hurt.  He is also bigger than the dream and promise I carry within my heart.  My hope lies not with a man but with my God for the fulfillment of this promise.

In the meantime, I am learning to die to this desire.  I'm not saying that it's wrong for me to desire marriage or dream about it, but I need to be careful about making it an idol...that marriage will bring the ultimate satisfaction or I am not fully living until I experience that magical moment.  God is where my hope lies, not marriage.  As I wait for the time when I promise myself to the man who is just right for me, I choose to enjoy each moment that God has given to me now.  Letting go of a desire into the hands of the Almighty God brings such freedom, including clarity of where to go from there.  I can trust Him completely, even and especially when I don't understand.