After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I want to start this post by saying that I am far from perfect.  By putting this out there I am not trying to tell everyone I am perfect.  In fact, sometimes I scare myself with the not nice thoughts that go through my head.  Sometimes they make their way out and I am horrified and mortified.  So, if you read this and it makes you think that I am a wonderful person.  Don't.  Please don't.  I struggle every day with it.  This is just what I have learned so far and my attempt to put it together into something that I can see.  Not how I am actually able to live on a daily basis.  I admit that I screw it up more than I get it right.

I saw something recently that made me really think.  

"The truth will set you free.  But first it will (tick) you off."

There is so much truth packed into this little statement.  

Truth.  Telling the truth.  Recognizing the truth.  Knowing the truth.   Speaking the truth.  Hearing the truth.  Really listening to the truth. Accepting the truth.  Acting on the truth. But truth is hard.  Really hard.  Because usually it ticks people off.

One friend pointed something out a bit ago about how Jesus called his disciples idiots at one point.  A few years ago when I realized that Jesus getting frustrated with his disciples was recorded in the Bible, I laughed and laughed and pretty much used that as a reason to say it like it is.  After all, if Jesus did, why can't I?

But then I realized that some people got tired of Jesus telling them the truth and they killed him.  It didn't matter that Jesus was speaking the truth in love and without selfish motives.  (And yes, I realize that there is so much more to the WHY of Jesus dying, but for my purposes, we will not get into that.)

Recently we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   On this day we celebrate a man who also, like Jesus, stood up and told it like it was. 

Some people didn't like it.  Someone killed him. 

People apparently don't like to be told that someone disagrees with them.  I am one of those people, actually.  Most likely because I am human.  And humans are funny that way.

And maybe it comes down to respect.  But what is respect?  

I asked.

Five hours.   It took five hours to get two responses and three likes. I am not Little Miss Popular.  But that is pretty rare.  Eighteen hours later, I had four likes and still only two brave souls who spoke up. 

Is it really that tough of a topic?  Or maybe, like one of my friends pointed out, our culture doesn't know what respect is.  We don't teach respect.  People don’t know what it is.

I have been thinking about respect a ton recently.  Life events, dealing with my kids as siblings and growing children, watching my friends and acquaintances deal with tough issues and each other.  Trying to figure out if I should keep my mouth shut or say something. 

I am not going to lie.  I think I have a lot of friends.  A lot of really great friends who are neat people, and I have learned a lot about life from them.  And I hope some of them don't mind if I talk about them here. 

One response to my respect question stated that respect is being mindful of others and how you may offend them.  Yes.  And yes.  Engage that filter. If we aren't adding to the situation or ultimately building someone up, it may be a good idea to keep it to ourselves. Though I also think that sometimes the truth needs to be stated.  As I pointed out earlier, that can be very dangerous.

A while back another friend commented that she really doesn't have to wonder what I am thinking.  I apparently don't hesitate to just let it all come out of my mouth. 

Except I don't think that is true.  There is a lot that I do say.  But I don't say all of it.  Trust me.  My world is a nicer place with that stuff all still in my head.  Why?  Well, because that is part of what I think respect looks like.  My filter usually works (usually).  I know it is important.  I usually choose to use it. (Usually.)

One response I got is that respect is quiet.  That is beautiful.  Some of the most amazing people I have known have been quiet people.  People I couldn't help to be drawn to because I knew that when they did have something to say, it was always significant.  Like they saved up all their significant thoughts for that one comment and packed it all in for maximum effect.  But without any effort at all.

Respect is quiet in other ways as well.  Quietly doing the right thing.  Quietly making a difference.  Quietly carrying out your responsibilities that keep the world around you orderly and happy.  Yes, respect is quiet.

I would also argue that respect is speaking up and not keeping quiet.  And I am talking beyond, "You have toilet paper sticking out the back of your pants," kind of speaking up.  Though I am not denying the importance of speaking up in that instance. 

What I am talking about is the hard kind of respect.  The kind where you look at someone you love and respect and realize that they have something going on that shouldn't be going on.  It doesn't matter why, but you know that it shouldn't be going on and you know exactly where it is going.  Respect in this instance seems to be speaking up.  Not standing by and being quiet, but speaking up and making a stand for what you know is right.  Saying that you love them and you need them to know what you see.  I have several relationships where it isn't at all a problem for our relationship for either one of us to speak up or call the other on the carpet.  They are some of my most meaningful and solid relationships because of that.  No, I am not always happy when I am the one hearing the truth.  It hurts to realize that I am wrong. Sometimes I cry and yell and swear (also not quiet I realize).  And now I have to go fix it.  That takes energy.  And I have to deal with the fact that I may have hurt someone in the process.  Plus, I was wrong.  I hate being wrong.  Though I have learned that admitting the fact that I was wrong is very liberating.  And I think more people should try it.  

Respect is also reciprocal.  It has to go both ways.  If it doesn't go both ways, the relationship has nothing to go forward on.  Respect breeds trust and trust is another foundation of a solid relationship. If there isn't trust, there really is nothing.  But it has to start with someone.  Someone has to be brave enough to throw the first bit of respect and trust out there.  And the other person has to be brave enough to grab it with a smile.  

But once that trust and respect is established, it has to be maintained.  They are hard won, sometimes tricky to maintain and really tough to get back once they are lost.   Sometimes I think that is why relationships are so hard.  Maintaining that respect and trust is tough.

Respect can agree to disagree and disagree without being disagreeable or contentious.  I was trying to explain this to someone about a week ago.  Some of my favorite people in the world are some of the ones I guess you could say I disagree with most.  Frankly, if one of my criteria for friends was that they agree with me 100%, I wouldn't have any friends.  And I wouldn't be married to the guy I am married to.  Shoot, I wouldn't even get along with my own parents.  That seems like a pretty lonely existence, actually.

I had someone tell me at his dinner table that I was one of the few people that he felt comfortable talking to about our religious differences without feeling like he was offending me or like I was going on the defensive.  This was at his dinner table with his entire family around him.  And dinner didn't miss a beat.  Nor did our visit.  I felt like I must be doing something right.  That doesn't happen much.

I have another friend that I can honestly say I may have only agreed with about 10% of what she has done in and with her life.  But because of that reciprocal respect, I have learned more from her than I think I have learned from any other single person that I am not related to. 

Interestingly enough, one of the people I was trying to explain this to responded saying that my friend was pretty tolerant to be friends with someone (me) who disagreed with the core of who she was.  Obviously it goes both ways.  But this person went on to say that she couldn't get there no matter how much she meditated.  What I didn't say then (respect) but what I am going to say here is that maybe if meditation isn't working, she could consider trying something else.  And maybe it has nothing to do with tolerance (I have issues with that term) and everything to do with mutual respect, trust, and love.  Those things don't just happen.  But they all start with respect. 

I was talking to another friend of mine recently about relationships.  She simply stated that relationships are hard.  I could not agree more.  Every relationship under the roof I call home is hard.  My relationship with the husband is incredible.  But sometimes it is really hard.  My relationships with my children are thriving, but sometimes they are very hard.  Their relationships with each other are hard.  I deal with that every day, helping them work through all the stuff that happens between them.  Not a day goes by that someone isn't apologizing to someone else.  And more times than I like to admit it is me doing the apologizing.  Sometimes not a single hour of the day goes by that someone isn't apologizing.  

Recently we had a problem and one of the kids looked at me and said, "But it was my fault!"  That pretty much floored me.  And then I told said child that I am sure she knew what to do.  It was worked out within minutes.  I went and had a moment.  Maybe all my apologizing and telling my kids that it was my fault when it is and telling they are wrong when they are is working.   I pray that is the case.


Apologies and forgiveness are so very important to relationships.  Sometimes we hurt people without meaning to.  "I am sorry if I hurt you by what I said/did.  I did not mean it that way and I hope you will give me a chance to explain."  Or, "I am not sure what is going on, but I feel like I may have offended you or upset you somehow. If that is the case, I am sorry."  Sometimes we go for the jugular because we are so darn mad we lose control and lash out.  But that reciprocal respect is what brings it back.  "I am sorry I said and did those things.  I was mad.  I hope you can forgive me." And doing the right thing when you are still fighting mad is hard.  Just as hard as it is to realize that the other person is doing the right thing even though s/he is still fighting mad as well.  Because the truth is, they are being the better person and that has a tendency to tick me off. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to respect that.

The same friend who pointed out that respect is quiet also made a huge connection between respect and pride.  To quote her, “To respect someone is to see their value.  Pride keeps us from seeing past our own value.” 

Oh my word.  That is so amazing.  Realizing you are wrong, admitting it and asking for forgiveness is stepping past pride and humbling yourself in front of someone who may be angry with you.  Even if you feel like you are being wronged as well.  But I know when someone values their relationship with me enough to apologize like that, all I want to do is wrap them in a giant hug and never let them go.  It isn't about YOU!  It isn't about ME!  It is about the RELATIONSHIP!!

When I was teaching high school I caught three kids cheating on the same test.  I wrote all three of them up.  I wasn’t too surprised that I had caught two of them.  The third one nearly broke my heart.  But dangit if the next time the kid clapped eyes on me in a crowded hall surrounded by all his friends he actually stopped mid-sentence and yelled to get my attention, fighting his way through the crowd.  He didn’t even wait until he got to me to apologize. He just kept yelling. “Mrs. D! I am SO sorry!  I should NOT have done that!”  Everything about him was sincere and he made no effort to be quiet about his shame. I knew his parents would probably dole out a pretty appropriate punishment.  But I also knew that telling them about the apology would likely do a lot of good for everyone involved as well.  Frankly, kids don't have that kind of character by chance or by accident.  They learn it.  They are taught it by people who live it.  By people who value that kind of character enough to instill it in their kids.

The other two kids?  I don’t even remember who they were.  But I know I didn’t get an apology from either of them.  Thinking about it now, that kind of makes me sad.

I also learned that even if I am “less wrong” than the other person, I can still apologize and work towards restoring the relationship.  Nobody is completely innocent. And it isn't ME that is important.  It is the RELATIONSHIP.  

You know what else there is about apologies??  An unnecessary one certainly can't hurt.  I have had people apologize because they think they offended me with something they said or did.  Usually I smile and tell them that they are going to have to work harder than that to offend me.  And we have a good laugh and everyone is happy and respect is brought up a notch.  Or I apologize and they look at me like I am nuts because I am apologizing for something they don't even remember.  And we smile and they know I value the relationship.  It is all good!

All these moments where pride (mine included) are put aside for the good of a relationship are very humbling for me.  They bring me back to the fact that I am really no better than anyone else.  I say and do things I shouldn't all the time.  Paul talks about it in the Epistles.  He knows he shouldn't do all these things, but he does them anyway.  Because he is sinful.  It all comes down to that.  This is a fallen world.  We all screw up.  And we all need forgiveness. And we are a whole heck of a lot more likely to get it if we own up to what we did and apologize.

As a little side note, anger is not always bad.  The Bible talks about how we should be slow to anger and to not sin in our anger.  That doesn’t sound to me like anger itself is a sin. I hear people all the time saying that they know they shouldn't be angry.  Sometimes that is true.  But sometimes anger is justified and necessary.  And sometimes it is brought on by the truth.  Realizing that we are being wronged.  Or taken advantage of.  Or being disrespected.  Or lied to.  Having our character questioned or slandered.  Those kinds of things make me mad.  Sometimes they make me fighting mad.  And sometimes they make me walking away mad.  

Figuring out whether I should be fighting mad or walk away mad is always the hard part.  And frankly I always feel like I choose wrong.  I hate fighting with people.  I hate it.  I hate it with a passion.  But you know what I hate more?  I hate being lied to.  I hate feeling disrespected.  I hate having my character questioned.  And I hate being taken advantage of.  So, if you want to fight with me, those are good ways to get me fighting mad.   

Yes, hate is a strong word.  But appropriate at times.

One of the "personal theories" that bothers me is one that I feel like I hear all the time.  "I can say and do whatever I want whenever I want and if you have a problem with it, that is your problem.  Not mine."  

Basically, this relieves the person of any responsibility for what they say or do.  How convenient that they get to blame everything on someone else and live in their own happy bubble.  

It is the most selfish thing I think anyone can do.  There is not an ounce of respect there.  And if anyone dares to try and convince this person that their theory is flawed, well, I have learned over and over the hard way that it will likely not be pretty.  Mostly because I got fighting mad when I should have gotten walking away mad.  I have come to realize that in Greek and Roman mythology some of the punishments were designed to drive someone mad.  Forever rolling a rock up a hill just to have it roll down the other side.  Being hungry and having the grapes always just out of reach.  Being thirsty and having the water just out of reach.  Frankly, I think one of the punishments should have been to try to convince someone who doesn't care to care.  It is impossible.  Believe me, I have tried.  It just drives me mad.

But then, dangit if I forget that that sociopathic personal theory is selfish and disrespectful and I try to make it work for me.  I really don't like it when I realize I am the one who was trying to do that to someone.

Respect. It can't be forced.  It must be reciprocated. It should be given freely, but it also needs to be earned.  Sometimes it is really, really hard. Every relationship that is worth having is built on respect.  And truth.  And trust. 

Was it lack of respect and the presence of pride that killed Jesus (aside from the whole prophecy thing)?  And did that Martin Luther King?  And countless other people in the history of the world who had enough respect and were selfless enough to speak the truth and admit the truth?  And be angered by the truth? I don’t know.  But I do know that when I show respect, I generally get it back.  If I don’t get it back, I try to re-evaluate the situation and see if I want to stay in it.  Or if I should say something or keep my mouth shut.  I don’t always make the right choice. It makes the world a better place.

I try to live it.  I expect it of my children.   I try to be someone worthy of respect.

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