Sunday, October 19, 2008

"R E S P E C T...Find Out What it Means to Me"

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”
~Laurence Sterne
“He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In high school I can remember having more freedom and less rules than some of my friends. I don’t think I can ever remember being grounded. I wasn’t a perfect kid by any means but I didn’t get in trouble because I didn’t break a lot of rules.
The first (and only) time I ever ditched school (being coached by an older girl), I got caught. The disappointment on my mom’s face was so much worse than having to stay home that Friday night. She trusted me and I let her down. Trust was broken and respect was lost.

Seems like a million years ago, but that lesson stayed with me. I need respect. Can't you just hear the words to Aretha Franklin's legendary song playing in your head? We all need to feel respected. Respect equates to value. We want our stock to be high, but to be worth much we have to be a proven commodity. Respect isn’t something that comes automatically or in an instant. It is gained over time.

That high school experience was not my last bad choice or the last time I lost the respect of someone I love. When that happens, trust may be regained over time, but the level of respect never seems to be the same. Knowing that we are less esteemed—and rightly so—by someone we care about is deeply painful.

There are different ways of being respected too. We can be respected for our beauty, our wealth, our family and our talents. While it is nice to be admired for those things, isn’t being truly respected for our character more meaningful? Merriam-Webster’s defines respect as, “high or special regard.” If I’m going to be “held in high regard” I’d much prefer it be because I have integrity than because I have nice legs or can write a large check.

When I meet people and assess them (as we all do) respect is not something I bestow lightly. I may enjoy or appreciate—even admire them pretty quickly, but respect it something that has to evolve and prove the test of time and consistency.

Is your character worthy of respect? Are you slow to anger and quick to forgive? Are you generous, kind, tolerant and selfless? Are those things a show for certain times and special people or are you like that when you can’t be seen by another human being as well?

How do you measure respect…in yourself and others?
Diane Markins


Linda S Fitzgerald said...


Your post today almost dovetails my post at the STATION last week regarding "character". We respect folks who have a well-developed character.

Like you, I was a 'good teenager', rarely breaking any rules. But as a young married adult woman, I broke a very large rule; lost the respect of others & the trust of a very important person in my life. The trust was regained, but it was a painful process. As I have reflected on that experience and how it shaped who I am now, I see the dark & dingy side as well as the side that PAPA has used to bring me to the point I am now.

As for your question about measuring respect in self & others. . . I respect folks who are true to their word, even if their word is dramaticially difference than my values. I respect folks who don't wear "masks", but are who they are and don't give me a false face. And I respect others who respect others. . .regardless of viewpoints or differences.

For myself, I respect me when I'm true to who I know I am at this season of life. I respect me when I stay true to the course PAPA has put me on. And I respect me when I'm open, transparent & authentic with others. . even when it's not the popular route to take.

Thanks for your post this week. I do hope you'll add it at the STATION if you haven't already!

Much love,

Chelsea said...

I would consider myself a respectable person but I don't think I have always gotten respect from other people. People would always say how "nice" I was. Growing up and in school I was the "nice girl" and I've always been a people pleaser. While venting some frustration one day to a mentor she listened...and listened...and listened some more until she finally said, "Chelsea, do you care if people like you or do you care if they respect you?" Obviously my answer was both but, I never focused on gaining respect. At that point I thought that was the most profound thing anyone had ever said to me. It led me to a lot of reflection and I realized that I can still be kind, honoring, and thoughtful while giving myself some respect and not letting myself be walked on or taken advantage of. It's something that I constantly need to work on and remind myself. I do respect myself and I do deserve it from others. And yes, I can still be nice! :) For someone like me that is something that takes practice!
Thanks for such a good reminder!

Anonymous said...

I think we have the same story. I was in eighth grade not high school but the same thing happened. I was pressured into ditching that one time and got caught. It didn't phase the girl I was with but all I could think about was the look I was going to get from my parents, being grounded never even crossed my mind. The loss of respect and trust and that intense look of disappointment is what breaks your heart. And it takes a long time to build that back up again.


Anonymous said...

Respect, Respect, Respect. When I sit and think about that word and what it means to me I find myself wondering, what does that word really mean anyway. So I asked my daughter Mackenzie (7) and she said, “It means listen to your Mom and Dad and do what you are told.” So for her she associates respect with adults in her life who are responsible for her well being or who have her best interest at heart. I am deeply respectful of others who have come from nothing and made something of themselves, those who were never handed a lemon but were able to make lemonade. Further than that, I respect those who were handed it all and you would never know it. They are generous and kind and never boastful. Though I am certainly not slow to anger and quick to forgive I do think my character is worthy of respect. I am a very responsible, ambitious, friendly person and I respect/admire those with those qualities.

Diane Markins said...

I love your daughter's definition. If we apply that to our relationship with God it makes perfect sense!

Anonymous said...

Been thinking about this all day. There is so much disrespect today for everything from property to human life even in this country. "Respect your elders" has taken on a new meanings since I am now an "elder"! I respect a person who truly "walks their talk". I think honesty with ourselves as well as those around us leads to respect.

Anonymous said...

My pastor in Baton Rouge YEARS AGO, taught us in his church, that REPUTATION was who you ARE before MEN.....but CHARACTER is who you ARE before GOD". Selah.

Diane Markins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane Markins said...

I love you pastor definition and will certainly repeat it!