We show it by taking our hats off or putting them on, keeping our distance or clamoring to get closer, speaking in hushed tones or calling out at the top of our lungs. We have to work to get it, but we cannot buy it or sell it, only give it. Offering it to others does not deplete the supply we have for ourselves. Singer Aretha Franklin demanded it and taught us how to spell it: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The word comes from Latin. Its root meaning is to look back or look again, but in English respect means to value, regard with special attention, or consider worthy of honor.
Respect is always relational. According to researchers at the University of Washington, contempt, not argument, is the greater predictor of divorce. What’s most amazing of all is that God respects us. God knows that we will make mistakes and come up short but trusts us anyway. Each day we receive the opportunity to try again, to look again at all that God loves, and to show the same respect and care that was first shown to us. In the end, respect comes from respect. Surely Aretha knew that from the beginning.
This message was adapted from the “Respect” by Serena Seller that appeared in the March 2009 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.