Photo Credits~

(owl:donaldthompson95 on flickr, luna:BillLepidoptera/ on flickr, willow/fence:trensamiro on flickr, all remaining: Merana Leigh)

Psalm 25:4-5

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (NIV)

Drench yourself in words unspoken, Live your life with arms wide open,

Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten. ("Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield)

It matters not how long we live, but how!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The "R" word

If I were to ask you what the MOST important thing is to have in a relationship, what would you say? I'm betting 90%, at least, would say "communication".

While that's true...I believe there is something more integral than that. And that is RESPECT! Think about it...if you don't have respect for someone or they for you, how on earth do you think you will have open communication with that person?! Open communication flows from having enough respect for someone to be open to the ideas they are presenting (especially if they are not in line with your own), enough respect for someone to actually LISTEN to what they have to say, and enough respect for someone (including yourself) to admit that perhaps the other person has a point, and just maybe you were wrong. Shaking your head 'yes' yet?

Everyone deserves that - in a working relationship, a friends relationship, a parent-child relationship, a romantic relationship, and even just having simple respect for human beings in general. It is said that there's no fooling children or animals. They haven't been jaded enough to not see the true essence of someone's character right away. If I'm around someone that children or animals won't go near...umm, I'm headed the other way too.

I believe, for me, this has come from the emotional abuse I endured in my marriage. I wasn't remotely respected at all. Just a few examples - 1) he would take a entire package of saltines, crush them to pieces & throw it all over the floor then yell, "clean it up. That's YOUR job." 2) he'd get frustrated if the dishes weren't done (I WAS busy with a toddler & infant at the time, and they were rinsed off & waiting to be washed). When I commented, "well, if they're not getting done quickly enough for you, why don't you just do them." His solution, pull the trash can over & throw them away. 3) when I FINALLY found a job & was in my probationary period, I got a call from daycare that my son was sick & needed to be picked up. Called my husband to pick up our son since he was lazin' around the house doing nothing. He said, "nope, that's YOUR responsibility". I was at work, he was at home. I was 30 minutes away, he was 5 minutes away to getting a SICK CHILD. (I got fired for leaving, btw)

Ok, so .... see my point? After living through that & being delivered from it, I refused to EVER go back to something like that again. And I accept my responsibility in all that. I allowed it. But when I started stepping up to the plate to stand up for myself, that's when the real trouble began & the demise of the marriage was imminent.

My POINT in all of this is...he didn't have respect for me, and clearly I didn't respect myself enough for a very, VERY long time. And my children suffered by what they witnessed. That was my main reason for help prevent them becoming like him. Now, I'm not going to sit here & pretend I was someone with a halo above my head. I made a lot of mistakes too. But I didn't deserve the treatment I got. Nobody does. And I'm also not going to make him out to be some monster. He is not. He's a good that we are apart & he has time to focus on the boys & not on avoiding or antagonizing me. I'm grateful for that!

So...back to my original thoughts on respecting others - I gave you this history to set up something awful and then wonderful that happened this past week. My older son & I were in a disagreement (that happens often in the teen years, I understand :-\ ). Then he had the nerve to say to me "well I respect dad" in a taunting voice. Ok folks, full-blown admission here....I blew a gasket & let him have it big time! I told him that I deserve just as much, if not MORE respect from him than his father does. "It is ME who's there with you when you're sick, it is ME who helps with homework, it is ME who takes you where you need to go. Who do you think does your laundry, does the shopping for you, cooks your food, etc. (the list went on & on)" Then "Let me tell you, buddy, the things you have in life that you love & enjoy are PRIVILEGES, not because you "earned" them. I can take away every last thing you love if you don't show me the respect I deserve for everything I do & sacrifice for you!" His reply, "Yeah, well Dad would do that if he could, but I live with YOU. And if you didn't do those things for me, then Child Services would come." To which I replied, "That's right, he would. But WE agreed it was best that you both live with me. And yes, I do things for you because it is my responsibility that God entrusted you to me, but I do it because I LOVE you!" (now mind you, my younger one is in the back seat keeping SILENT! smart boy ;o} ) . So...dropped them off at their dad's with NOTHING said from him except a slammed door - no "goodbye", no nothing - just the evil-eyed stare (you know what I'm saying, right?)

Ok, so I came home & prayed ... asked God to forgive me for some of the colorful language I let slide every now & again (I have no halo either, I'm human...and in full-blown admission mode here, people). And you know what He was faithful to show me? Used my own words on me. Remember above where I said, "the things you have in life that you love & enjoy are PRIVILEGES, not because you "earned" them. I can take away every last thing you love if you don't show me the respect I deserve for everything I do & sacrifice for you!" I got a real quick attitude adjustment that brought me to tears & even further repentance. These boys ARE a privilege to raise & they ARE a blessing that, God-willing will never happen, could be taken away in a breath. I do love them with every fiber of my being...even when I might not "like" them for awhile. (I'm crying as I type this)

So I did what was right. When they got home later, I took him aside, hugged him & told him how very much I love him. But that I would never tolerate disrespect in our home. And then I touched my hand to his cheek & told him, "Listen, I get crabby too & sometimes I take that out on you guys. I'm sorry for that. We all do it sometimes. I need you to say to me then, 'Mom, you're being really crabby right now' because sometimes we don't even realize we're doing it. Can you promise me you'll do that?" He said yes, we hugged (REAL hug, not that half-hearted quick slap on the back kinda thing).

Ok, so now in this novel I've written as a post :o}, I get to the blessing that God created...

the next day after work & grocery shopping, we get home & I put away the perishables. The boys were playing downstairs in the basement family room. I told them I was gonna lay down to read on the couch in the upstairs living room (my space) for a few minutes because I just wasn't feeling myself. Dozed, of course. In that dozing state, I could hear some rustling around in the kitchen. I called out, "who's in there?" (not knowing which of the 2 it was) & in walks my older son with playtex gloves on. Get this...he said to me, "No worries, Mom. I put away all the groceries & now I'm doing the dishes so we can spend some more time together tonite." Huh? Seriously? WOW - on his own! I just felt SO loved & respected in that moment. God took the bad thing that happened between us, my repentant confession, and my son's beautiful heart that loves to help, and He made such a simple gesture speak volumes.

Once again, Lord, I don't deserve your favor or your grace, but I thank you for it!

And that, my bloggin' buddies, is living my faith walk...full public admission, and showing how He is faithful...even in small instances!

Livin' high in His grace ~ Merana


  1. Great post, I was touched by it. Admission restores relationships and often brings blessing. Confession is good. It is sometimes hard, but it is always good.
    Joy and Blessing,

  2. Oh Merana:
    I have tears in my eyes. First I'm working on the self respect thing as you know., I've allowed people to disrespect me as well and I'm with you, no more.

    I'm so glad you told this story. Your journey has not been easy, but by His Grace alone, you are making it. Isn't funny that God can turn the words we use towards others back to ourselves. You learned from what you said and he blessed you with grace. Your son's are getting the leason as well, beacuse your guiding them.

    Keeping you all in my prayers, I know it can't be easy to raise 2 boys on your own, but He chose you to raise these boys and break the mold of your ex. From what I hear you're doing a great job. One breath at a time girl.


  3. Hi Merana,

    I found myself writing a post instead of a comment so I'll just say, "Respect is important but I no longer believe getting it or not getting it (from others) defines me."

    This is what I believe to be common ground for women and African Americans (particularly those from my generation or earlier ones). We've both been disrespected and made to feel less than human. For me, finding my identity in Christ has changed not only how I see myself but it has also allowed me to sever the link between me what others say and do to me. Respect for myself no longer requires validation from others.

    You raise a lot of good points about this topic and unfortunately, I can't seem to keep my comment to <25 words, so I'll just say, "good post."

    Blessings and peace.


  4. Wow, Merana, what a powerful post. You're right - respect is so so so important. My mother was pretty lenient with me in many ways but i never doubted her love for me and one thing she would not tolerate was disrespect for her. Good for you for this lesson you learned and shared. Your boys will be so much better for it.
    Hugs & blessings,

  5. Merena...I read this right through...thank you for you open honest sharing and I think there really can't be honest communication without respect. Thanks for being you...for having the strength to start respecting yourself...that is the biggest lesson for our kids.....Stay strong ok...Sarah

  6. Merana,
    I am so glad you stopped by my blog and shared about you and your mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s. Yes, I hate the disease, too. I miss my mom so much, even though she’s still here. The mom I once knew has been gone for quite awhile. But I am glad that at least I can still see her and take care of her, even though it is very tiring. I'm sorry you can't talk with your mom any longer. :-(

    I enjoyed your post. You are right on target. I think we’ve overemphasized communication through the years when it is really respect that deserves the attention. Thanks for sharing the difficulties from your past. I’m glad you no longer have to live with such blatant disrespect.

    I’m thankful, too, for the Lord’s favor because I don’t deserve it either!

  7. Hi thank you so much for all your comments.
    I loved your "R" word blog. This was amazing and it's so awesome to see what God has done in your life.
    Yes, with regards to your last comment on my blog. I try and be everything for someone. Funny hanging out with that guy caused me to get sunburned (and i'm dark skinned). He refused to take the umbrella to the beach and I agreed (just to please).
    Thank you for all your words of wisdom and i look forward to more of your posts.


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