As you might anticipate from my name, I’m not necessarily a looker, one who stands out from the crowd or some suave international hipster. My middle name is a cruel joke my parents played on me, naming me after a hobby they both took up while waiting for me to be born. Since no one on either side of the family was named Neal I can only guess what they meant there. I’ve been dealing with the concept of respect, both theoretically and in practice, for a very long time.
Now our culture would have you believe that there is some special someone, your soul mate or that one who completes you. Actually, this is just a ruse to cut down on crime, war and unsanctioned anti-social behavior; a successful ruse, thankfully, but not the original intent.
We don’t hear these words anymore but I’ll quote them anyway: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” A helper fit for him. Hmm, I wonder what that could mean.
Perhaps it means what it says; it wasn’t good for him to be alone so He gave him one who was fit to help. Fit? That means suitable; more like ‘two peas in a pod’ than like ‘hand in a glove’ but you get the picture. Help? C’mon, you ever try to carry something heavy by yourself? Help!
When were either (they were both called Man, one male and the other female) going to be alone? All too soon. Driven from the ‘Tree of Life’ so they wouldn’t live forever in their fallen state, they were driven away from God’s presence, death’s real meaning.
So how does this all relate to respect? I bet you could tell me stories. But, this is my turn so here it goes. I found someone on a blind date. Unfortunately, I was a placeholder for the one she really wanted. Finding out and escaping with my soul wounded but intact, I was found by Christ.
One evening, among my peers, I was told this was my last chance to find a mate; I would have to make a decision one way or the other. I did not know the woman. We had never been more than acquaintances. I said no. What tragedy was needlessly perpetrated on her? Wouldn’t it have been kinder to say, “Do you really know him? Have you ever spoken heart to heart? What have you two decided together?” rather than try to broker some heroic “deal too far”?
No respect, no dignity.
Having been invited to dinner, I was plied with promised favors. Trying to be chaste, I declined. Her roommate brought up some rival. Fictional, I didn’t know? I wasn’t biting. Not long after, I was invited for coffee for one last chance at opportunity. I had to ask myself, “whose?”
No respect, no dignity.
One day I was introduced to a person with the explicit purpose of assessing whether I was mate material. This was her purpose, not mine. I only became aware of the ulterior motive after the fact. No doubt arranged by some well-meaning individual who wanted to fill a gap, meet a need or put me out of my ‘misery’. Or maybe they wanted me to be as happy as they were. And this happened in trusted circles. Just another way respect is in shortage.
Perhaps you trade on your good looks (they fade), your status (it changes) or you just trade favors. Give these ways up. A long time ago, a taker, in a moment of candor, said “you have to figure out what you want out of life and get it”. I think you have to figure out what you want in life and give it. However, there are no guarantees for a return on your investment, at least not in this life. I want a help mate who fits. That will take respect and I plan to give it.