Respect: “good opinion, honor, or admiration” (taken from Wiktionary).
As usually happens, when I ask God to start peeling back the layers in me that need to be fixed, He brings to light exactly the area He wants me to work on. I normally have an extraordinarily large amount of patience, but when stressed, upset, or burned out, my edges can get a little rough. It’s something that until recently I wasn’t completely aware of, but since God has brought it to my attention, I don’t like it, and I see it’s an area I need to improve upon. I actually thought I was justified in my approach (just being a firm parent) until I started hearing my “arguments” replayed between my children and realized how ridiculous I sounded. They were matching me tone for tone, word for word, and I didn’t like what I was hearing. Instead of hearing gentle reminders or kind words of explanation or even firm directions without being drawn into an argument, I heard exaggerations and idle threats: “Do you want to pay $500 to replace the vacuum because mom will take it out of your allowance!” (How’s that for one child pitting me against the other?)
It brought back a conversation I had with my husband recently (I love how God shows me these things from more than one source). We were talking about keeping the big picture in mind despite the daily drama. Why allow myself to get stressed and throw out idle threats when a calm response is more effective? If I want to be seen as someone my children should honor, then I’m solely responsible for the image I portray. It also reminded me of a phrase I use with my kids a lot but need to take to heart more often: “You aren’t in charge of anyone else’s actions, only your reactions.” Ouch!
Last year I wrote a blog about respect and the role it plays in marriage. (Here’s the link to read that blog en toto: http://cheriswalwell.com/ 2012/04/22/respect-not-just-a-verb/) I spoke about how important it is to respect whom you’re dating because those same characteristics will continue into marriage. This year I want to address a similar virtue: Admiration.
If you look at the above sentences, admiration is part of the definition of respect. That’s how I think of admiration and respect – you can’t have one without the other. I have found if I respect someone, I already admire them. I’ll go so far as to say that admiration first gets my attention, and when appropriate, turns into respect after a relationship is built.
My husband is a great example of someone I admire and respect. That’s why I have started following his approach to help me smooth out my rough edges. He’s a great example of keeping the level of drama to a minimum. He reacts appropriately to the situation: Spilled milk is a minor inconvenience that requires a few towels and maybe an extra load of laundry while bad grades as a result of not studying require a little more intervention. Deliberate lying or disobeying takes on a far more serious consequence than mutual roughhousing resulting in some bumps and bruises on a sibling.
It doesn’t stop there. He is admirable not only in the way he treats me, but his expectations of how our kids treat me as well. He’s quick to put a stop to their disrespect or rude behavior when directed at each other or their mom instead of letting it reach mammoth proportions that require a bigger consequence. However, his way of intervening mixes the perfect blend of, “I’m not going to tolerate it” firmness with “but I still care about your feelings” gentleness.
My admiration for his character bleeds over into his other relationships – with extended family, friends, co-workers, and strangers. My husband makes it a rule to treat others with the same respect that he wants shown to himself. As a result, he’s a great example for our children to follow: Our sons are learning how to be real men and our daughter is learning how she should be treated by her future boyfriends/spouse (if we allow her to date, that is). He’ll go out of his way to clean up a mess, help out a friend, or take a few extra minutes to do something the right way just because it’s the right thing to do. Instead of complaining if the house has become a disaster, expecting me to keep it “company ready” at all time, he’ll roll up his sleeves, without saying a word, and deep clean whatever needs the most attention.
I have always considered my husband to possess a gentle strength and the above descriptions are great examples. Between the two of us, I’m much more impulsive, react with my emotions first and logic afterwards, and at times speak before figuring out the right way to approach something. He, on the other hand, is slow to speak, carefully weighing his words and how they will affect others, making sure to use the most positive spin in even the most awkward situations. He and I can tell our children the same thing, yet I’m always amazed at how much better he says it then me. I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped and admired the way he phrases a request to where the child listening almost wants to do the chore because of the way he presented it.
I would like to encourage you today. If you have someone in your life, a spouse, a significant other, or even a friend that you admire, what are some ways you can tell them verbally how much you appreciate them? That special someone in your life would probably love to hear how much they are admired.
I’m grateful my husband is such a wonderful example for our family. We’ll all reap the benefits as he helps me smooth my rough edges, in his very gentle way, I might add.
Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell