For the past several months, indeed for most of the year, I have been secretly working to put together a tremendous honor for a woman who more than deserves it. She doesn't know it's happening...but it's happening, and the more family that I've brought into the mischief, the more people are really excited that this is finally happening for her.
The story doesn't matter much, not for the sake of today's post, but here's the gist: I have a very dear family member who means so much to all of us, and several years ago in passing, I heard that this sweet woman has only one regret in her whole life. And it's been a long, full, good life. So of course, if you tell me a thing like that, I'm going to do what I can to take care of that one thing for her. It only seems right.
Well, it's coming together, and people are coming to tears over how much this is going to honor her. I'm excited. I'm still not sure whether her face is going to light up in joy...or she's going to light up my backside at all the trouble and spectacle for this humble old woman. (Those would be her words, not mine.) Either way, it's bound to be a great moment.
So as the day draws near, I find myself smiling more. The pieces are coming together, and it's not just work any more; we're back to joy. The other night, as I spilled the beans to yet another member of the family, who also broke down in tears, I had this moment of pure ministry in which I thought, "Yeah. Because this is what I was created to do. You want me to be the one working to honor you."
As good as that thought felt in revelation of my ministry and the work I'm doing every day to honor people where I meet them, those words also stung a little. Ok, a lot. Because the truth is that as hard as I work and as good as I am at honoring other people, at loving them well, in that moment a stark reality came over me: I have not honored and loved myself in the same way.
It's kind of a double-edged sword. It sounds arrogant, right? To even think about honoring or loving yourself with the same deep sense of giving and blessedness as you would honor or love another?
I reflect that part of it is my unwillingness, or perhaps inability, to feel honored and loved by someone else. It's still a block, a personal defense, for me and I deflect such things as fervently as I can (without, of course, disrespecting or meaning to disrespect the person who has seen fit to love on me). But I'm easily embarrassed, so I kind of push that aside.
But then it hit deeper and I wondered if I even could accept such a gift, from anyone, let alone myself. Which is perhaps a reflection for another day. Because what it led me around to is this:
It's different when you honor yourself. Necessarily, you do it in a different way. It's quieter, more gentle. It's less of a show. I mean, certainly, if I had put into myself the same level of production that I have put into my family, I would feel arrogant. And I would not feel honored. I would feel as though I was against myself, not for myself. That small reality led me to Jesus and the quiet ways in which He honored Himself, and others, by the way that He lived.
I think that's the difference. When we honor someone else, it's ok to make a show of it sometimes. It's ok to make it a big thing because you know what? Maybe it is. But when we honor ourselves, it really just is a smaller thing. It's not about this thing we're doing any more; it's about this thing we're being. We honor ourselves by being as God created us to be, just as Jesus did.
So I have some more thoughts about Jesus, and I'm going to be sharing those throughout this week. I want to share stories of how He honored others, while humbling and honoring Himself as He was created, all in the process of something so simple as living. Stay tuned for some of those stories.