Five Minute Friday: Respect

Gentle Reader,

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to preaching. I feel like I kickboxed and then did barre and then lifted weights back-to-back for hours. That said, there is something thrilling about sensing the Holy Spirit coursing through your body, pouring love into your heart that you just want to share with everyone. An honor. A taste of Eternity.

Kate says: respect.

Go.

I feel beads of sweat pop up on my forehead as the students began sharing. In the moment I’m not sure if it is the combination of 95-degree heat and the heaviness of my straightened hair spilling down my back, the fact that I am supposed to preach with no manuscript as directed by the Spirit, or fear than an argument will erupt and derail the whole evening.

The tense muscles in my neck turned out to be unnecessary. Those young people expressed themselves far more gently than we, the adults in their lives, have often chosen to.

Last week our county health department issued a mask mandate, and reactions have been mixed, to say the least. While I do believe it was important for us to allow space for discussion, I was also ready to run away. The day before the order came down, I was cussed out by a stranger while buying supplies for youth gathering because I had a mask on. Another trip to the store a few days later and I witnessed a man reach toward a woman in an attempt to rip the mask off of her face. Part of me doesn’t want to leave my house, because anger weighs down the air all around, and I can hardly take the heaviness.

Today I read these words:

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

– Ephesians 4:31-5:2

This is who and how we are to be if we claim the name of Christ. I don’t think Paul could have spelled it out more plainly. Live in love. We simply don’t have the right to be nasty to anyone. Choosing to be anything other than respectful, recognizing the imago dei in each person, is sin.

I’m convicted. My heart squeezes and turns within me. While I’m not a screamer, and my days of arguing about things online are behind me, I know I don’t always live in love. I know there is a new level of gentleness and grace that God is calling me to. This doesn’t mean compromising on my convictions or the truth of the Gospel. But it does mean, no matter how deep the disagreement goes, that I don’t get to indulge the arrogant, snotty voice in my mind that likes to judge others as ridiculous and stupid.

The voice that sounds remarkably like my own.

I strive to be a person of integrity and honesty. I’m learning to stop hiding or smoothing things over. I desire to speak plainly and openly. But I don’t want to add to the noise. I want to slow down, to possess a soft tongue, to be an inviting presence.

I choose respect.

Stop.

GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
MARIE

16 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Respect

  1. Yes, there’s anger all around,
    a-floatin’ on the air,
    heavies us to bloody ground,
    and does God even care?
    It’s kinda like bad high school,
    a ticked-off cliquey fog
    where the payoff is ‘Be cruel’,
    and it’ kinda like the Mog,
    but Somalia’s better any day,
    ’cause you know wherein you stand;
    the guys who think you’re in their way
    have got gun in hand,
    and in their manner, so direct,
    there is modicum of respect.

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    1. I like this, Andrew. There is a way in which direct, bluntly-stated disagreement respectful. Not fighting, not belittling, not spending pointless hours yelling. Just saying, “This is my position.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t get over that comment, it is so bizarre that people should be angry with you for wearing a mask! Respect is a good choice of word to reflect on and we are only accountable for our own behaviouŕ – great words to live in love and show respect.

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    1. It is strange how the mask issue is playing out. It makes me wonder if people are already feeling angry and afraid (who doesn’t in this pandemic?) and that’s the thing that they choose to latch onto. All of us want control, and maybe this is something we think we can control. I really don’t know. My prayer is that we’ll be able to bring life and peace into each moment. Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve got that same snotty, argumentative voice in my mind, too :). We’re not just wild-hair sisters. May the Holy Spirit work in each of us to gentle our words and our thoughts. This is my prayer for everyone. I can’t believe people are getting so upset over masks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you think it has something to do with our hair? Wild thoughts, wild emotions, wild hair? 🙂

      I don’t understand the anger. I truly don’t. Nobody wants to wear a mask. It’s not fun, especially in the summer heat. But is it worth getting this riled up about? Not to me. But I’m asking God to give me grace and patience, to be someone who is a soothing presence.

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  4. I am a screamer, a constant debater. I try to control it, but it bubbles up. My husband recently started suggesting that I become a lawyer. I know he means it as a compliment (to use the natural instincts I have in a positive way), but it stings a little. That being said, I can’t imagine reaching over and taking someone’s mask off. Long before covid, we’d see people (usually Chinese) in our area wear masks during flu season. That was a cultural norm for them, even though it was not a norm to most of us. It is interesting to read the kinds of stories you are telling when the opposite is true in my area: people are being chastised for not wearing a mask. In some way it is like the biblical question of whether or not to eat the meat that had been offered to idols. I think Paul would tell us, “whether you wear a mask or not, do it all to the glory of God.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good thoughts, Amie! I don’t think you have to feel bad about the personality you have, though I understand why his comment would sting. God created all of us uniquely, and I believe there is a place and time for intensity. 🙂

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  5. Yes, yes, yes! We must treat each other with kindness and not hate. Ephesians is such an important reminder for us all. Thanks sister! I’m over in the #20 spot this week.

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    1. Tara, Ephesians is BEATING ME UP as I study it, but in the best of ways. The way God calls us to live is just so radically different from that of the rest of the world. And I think that if we would really get on board with that, others couldn’t help but be drawn in by the light and the love.

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  6. Just beautiful Marie! Another wild haired, snotty inner voiced gal here! I pray along with Anita to let the Holy Spirit give me gentle thoughts and respectful words and to be brave to share them. I admire all you’re doing for young people. Such important work. Hope you’ve rested up after preaching. God Bless!

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    1. I missed replying to you the other day, Cindy! I’m sorry!

      Honestly, I’m still exhausted, but I can’t attribute that to preaching at this point. Good thing it’s Sunday, and a nap is in order. 🙂

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