Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Control over other people is just an illusion; so how do we honor when we are scared, hurt, or humiliated? Do we devalue others so we can justify how we feel about them? Do we feel justified when someone fails? Or do we humble ourselves with Honor?

We raise a standard in the lives of other people through Honor, people become better people through Honor. True honor is humility for both the giver and the receiver: it builds character, integrity and relationship. The choice is up to us."

quoted from a synopsis of the message Sheri Silk

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about intimacy: with friends, my spouse, and my children. I tend to fall into the trap of impatient shouting or ordering about or stomping kind of tantrums when the world doesn't go as I expect it to. I do not like losing control.

I tend to get increasingly disappointed with my reactions and my harshness and TRY harder but it doesn't really progress. Sometimes if I behave like I have an audience all the time I keep more composed but when I am stuffing my frustrations I am not really responding in a mature way anyway.

Would you be content with a friend telling you that everything is ok if you could see on their face that their blood is boiling or they're full of shame? Would you walk away feeling resolved that the relationship was all ok?

Not that we can control the responses or reactions of others but we do have a responsibility to come to an understanding, within reasonable limits (notice not an agreement, but an understanding).

In a similar way, I shouldn't expect my children to be concerned with the character lesson I might want to highlight when I have clearly become upset with their behavior. If their primary emotional issue is that I am obviously frustrated with them or angry, they aren't able to really learn what I am trying to teach. They are learning to placate me. They are telling me what I want to hear until I appear to like them again. There is no understanding at all.

So, while there are things I want to get done around the house and with schooling and in building my children's character, I am taking it as a new challenge to respond to their behavior and not just react. To be responsible in what I can control. And the truth is I cannot control their behavior at all. If I push for control now, what happens when they decide they want to be the ones in control? If I teach them that for one to have power another has to be without it, what kind of system am I establishing in my home? I would rather that we cultivated the place of honor, where we are each free to be who we are and are learning to be responsible for cleaning up our own emotional messes.

In order to do this I need to model the asking for forgiveness and clearly communicating my feelings and needs. When I talk about how I feel I need to talk about myself and not blame others or my circumstances for why I am behaving badly. I would like to honor my children by giving them choices in how they handle situations and coming alongside them as they learn how their actions affect others and how to respond to the consequences. My primary role then is facilitating them in their own processes, within certain guidelines as I am convicted, not imposing a system I create and where they have no room to manouver and provide opinions. I want to respond to whatever situations with grace and kindness and maintain integrity even if the other person is making it difficult.

Honestly, I just can't do it alone. Both in a spiritual sense and a communal one I need others. I need to see other people model this when I feel weak. I need others to remind me of my goals when I fall short. I want to see it all in action. Even the idea of communicating beyond the superficial, of being vulnerable with feelings, assertive with honoring myself and others, can feel awkward. The more widespread in my own community it becomes, the deeper the roots will go and the more natural it will seem. I feel scared that there isn't more honor practiced in the world, and I need to feel encouraged as I try to do my part.

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