Good Monday All!
I hope you had a happy and safe July 4th. I enjoyed reading your comments this week. Some of you found that at the half way mark of 2015, you were ahead. Others were behind, but most of you were on track with your goals. Congratulations! Many of you have set great goals for yourselves and your families. Some of the goals you shared that stood out were obtaining a RN license, date night with spouses, helping kids stay focused during the summer, keeping focus with weight loss goals and keeping relationship drama at a distance. Finishing 2015 well is very important, so keep the momentum going! I want to thank you for such positive feedback this week from the Children In Film’s “Ready… Set … Meet” event last Saturday. Many of you stated that you learned a lot about the industry and were looking forward to the book’s release. Thank you again for sharing.
I digress… Love and Respect!
I’m sure we’ve all been watching or reading the news these days. From one perspective, it seems that the world is changing. From another perspective, it doesn’t seem to be changing that much at all. From hate crimes to gun violence, police brutality, terrorist attacks (local and international), changes in laws regarding marriage, political systems that seem to be more and more divisive, border control, water shortages to the foods that we eat, everybody has an opinion about all of these issues and others one-way or another - and all of those opinions don’t necessarily meet somewhere in the middle. The longer I live, I’m learning that no one will ever agree with anyone else 100% of the time.
However, how we respond to those opposing opinions do matter, whether it’s differing lifestyle choices, race, religions, mindsets, cultures, political parties or the like. I don’t have to hate you or want to cause verbal or physical harm to you just because I disagree with you, don’t understand you or because you are different from me. I can love you even if I don’t always agree with you. However, unconditional love is a choice. I can also choose to respect you simply because we were both created by the same God and He thought enough of both of us to take time to create both of us, because He loved both of us equally and completely.
So when working on my own issues in this area, I had to go back to the God who created me and make a request. My prayer became, “Father, teach me how to see all of your creation as you see them, whether I agree with them or not.” In doing so, over time, I found myself seeing people beyond their physicality, beyond their differences, beyond their varying opinions, and beyond their personal journey or experiences. I began to see people as infants, as beautiful little babies. I allowed myself to imagine a time when they were brand new creatures just starting out in the world. They were innocent, vulnerable creatures, full of potential, loving unconditionally, without prejudices, or hateful mindsets, or opinions different from my own. My heart began to soften because I realized that God doesn’t see what we see when we look at each other. He loves us for who we are, right where we are. I have discovered that hate is not a prerequisite for disagreeing or vise versa. They are two separate ideas, but paired together they are dangerous and destructive! I’ve discovered over the years that I can love you to pieces and even engage with you and disagree with you about something. Let me follow that last sentence by adding: That does not mean that I am going to put up with foolishness, dysfunction or deal with the crazy choices that you make and act as if your behavior is not crazy. That’s neither love nor respect…that’s just plain crazy! Although, even in situations like these, I will have to respect you enough to get out of your way and let you be who you are from a distance (I learned this one the hard way). Note: Some people just don’t want to do, be, act or live better (in general). Loving someone from a distance while wishing them no harm and the best that life has to offer is doable too.
Nevertheless, I often wonder what the world would look like if we all learned to love and respect others while we worked on own issues. If we are honest, we have to admit that we do this all the time with people that we choose to do it with. I am for activism, fighting for rights, justice, speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves, speaking up and out, standing up for causes and standing up for what I believe. The water tends to get muddied or heated when we throw in religion, politics, upper and lower class, economics, prejudices and the like. But generally speaking, from a human race point of view, as if all things were equal (and we know they are not), if I believe that for myself, as creations of God, it shouldn’t be one sided, we should all have the same opportunity, whether I believe what you believe or not. For the sake of full disclosure, this is a challenge for me when dealing with people who are deliberately mean spirited, cold-hearted, unethical, disregarding, bullies or the like. Your challenge may not be the same as mine in this area, so how about we all work on our “Love and Respect” issues together? Yes, you know what’s coming.
Exercise: While reading this blog, is there anyone that comes to mind that you can extend unconditional love or respect to this week and moving forward? That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It just means that you can see past the disagreement and check the condition of your own heart to respect them enough to notice them and see that they matter just as much as you do. Some people could start by not using racial slurs or making negative comments behind closed doors about others. Some can start by having a respectful conversation with someone you disagree with. Maybe ask them a question that you always wanted to ask. Or you can make a similar request to God somewhat like I did, “Father teach me how to see all of your creation as you see them, whether I agree with them or not.” Although, I have not arrived, I am better than I used to be. Can you say “work in progress”? While thinking about this exercise, I’d like to leave you with a scripture that has helped me work on my issues in this area. Let’s reconnect next week.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Have a great week…on purpose!
Copyright © 2015 by Angela J. Williams. All rights reserved.