(Part 2)

     Today’s post is part 2 of writing prompted after listening to televised reports about the recent death of Aretha Franklin, a remarkable talent known as “The Queen of Soul.” As I heard one of Ms. Franklin’s signature tunes, “Respect” played numerous times the day following her death, my thoughts returned to other recent headlined stories and the matter of respect.

Today’s Thoughts:

     Stories of injustice and abuse make my blood boil. Churning is most intense when children are the victims. Lately, news stories—both locally and nationally—have reported incidents of horrific violence against innocent little ones.

     One of the tragic aspects of abuse is that frequently, abuse in one generation begets abuse—sometimes even more severe—in subsequent generations. From my education, years of counseling, glimpses into history and even from accounts in Scripture, I’ve observed almost every dysfunctional adult issue is rooted in childhood wounds.

     I believe God’s heart breaks when children are exploited. While God will not violate His commitment to give men and women free will, I am convinced with every fiber of my emotional and spiritual being that God loves to bless, longs to help us heal from childhood wounds and will give us wisdom to discover loving, healthy ways to discipline and raise our own children.

     It is possible to prune, feed, groom and grow healthier family trees! Objective, respect-filled observation, I believe, is necessary for such growth to occur. Respect characterizes loving, healthy family relationships.

     When I hear about children being abused and groomed for violence, I am both saddened and grateful. My own experience has shown that when parents are willing to learn from the dysfunction of their families of origin and practice different behaviors, subsequent generations benefit.

     My husband and I have discussed our families of origin often. From hours of exploration, we both have come to realize that despite their imperfect—even dysfunctional upbringings—our parents wanted the best for their children and did the very best they knew how to do. We are oh, so grateful and filled with respect for our parents’ love and commitment to family.

     In our discussions, we’ve identified strengths and not-so-strong aspects of our parents’ marriages and parenting practices. We value and want to emulate strengths as well as recognize and not replicate other aspects. At times, I believe, we’ve succeeded and other times, we haven’t.

     I’ve told both of my daughters, meaning it sincerely, my hope for them is they will have healthier marriages than mine and be better mothers than I. This, I believe, creates the ripple effect of generational blessings within families.

     This summer, our pastors have been teaching through the New Testament letter the apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Ephesus. Words in Ephesians have strengthened and encouraged me repeatedly, and I’ve loved this sermon series.

     Beginning in Ephesians 5, Paul addresses new followers of Christ concerning family relationships. I won’t begin to explain how passionately I’ve wrestled with the interpretation of this passage of scripture. That’s not my intent today. Instead, I want to say I believe if individuals—male or female; married or single; with children or not—committed to practicing the preface of Paul’s discussion, news headlines would be altered in amazing ways—as would appointments for therapy!

Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. (Eph. 5:21 MSG)

     R-E-S-P-E-C-T is more than the title of a catchy, brilliantly-sung song. It is an essential ingredient for healthy, harmonious family relationships!

     R-E-S-P-E-C-T is more than a judgement of another’s behavior. It begins the only place any significant change occurs—within ME. And, like all significant behavioral changes, it’s a process, oftentimes three steps forward and two steps back!

     As I close today’s post, I’m asking myself a couple questions and hope you’ll be willing to ask yourself as well:

     Where is respect lacking in my most cherished relationships?

     What small action step can I take today to ramp-up respect?

Blessings on each small step of your journey…

Sue Reeve

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