“I don’t get no respect.” So said the main character in my Depression era novel. The pain of being overlooked, dissed, ignored, or generally disrespected hurts as much now in our relatively affluent world as it did back when folks didn’t have two nickels to rub together, as my grandfather used to say.
A conflict developed in the past several weeks within one of my writer groups. The view of most in the group (three of us were absent that particular meeting) was that the alleged offense either could’ve been overlooked or settled with a private meeting. However, the aggrieved person took her grievances on-line. Emails quickly develop a life of their own and soon, I was asked to mediate. I agreed, with the understanding that I wasn’t taking sides. The three-hour process at conflict resolution left me exhausted but it appeared that the parties involved left the meeting respectful of one another.
Whether that is true will be played out by how the two sides relate to one another in the future … if they show mutual respect.
But does bad treatment from others change the essence of me or thee? Are we diminished by harsh judgments rendered by those who question our abilities, smarts, parentage, pedigree, the pickup we wheel up to Wal-Mart, or the dog that barks from our backyard? By silence or snickers from our peers when we step into the pool or stammer to give that first speech in class?
I think not. As Popeye the Sailor Man used to say, “I yam what I yam.”
So where does the problem come from? My dog and my blog may reflect me and my values but it’s not who or what I am. This blog is not me; it’s something I created, based on ideas rolling around in my head. But it is not me.
Who is me? (Yes, I know: Who am I?)
To discover who I am, and for you to discover who you are, we have to go to an authority. Yeah, I know, another question—what authority? For many, that would seem to be their parents, who spoke messages to them from the time they were able to walk: “You’ll never amount to anything … Can’t you do anything right?” Sometimes that message came through actions—a sneer or far worse, being treated as a thing, a sex object.
However, taking our value from other people—whether they be parents, friends or enemies—should not and does not determine who we are. For that, we go to ultimate authority—the God who created us. Only he determines who and what we are. When I was able to see myself as a valued creation in the eyes of God, then hey, the Sam I Am couldn’t be touched by what people said about me, did to me, or thought about me. But when I forgot that truth, the Sam I Am became the You is What?
The basic truth is that my Father God sees me as his special creation. I learned that when I read Psalm 139. Bill Gothard challenged me and thousands of others to memorize Psalm 139. I did. I recalled particular verses many times: “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” Fearfully and wonderfully made? Wow! That’s how God looks at me. Say what you will; I’m special.
Back to the writers conflict: If the offended person had been able to separate herself from her manuscript, there would’ve been no conflict. No fiery emails. Her screenplay isn’t her; it’s her creation. She is seen by a Holy God as precious, worthy of sending God’s own Son to die for her.
That’s what she is … regardless of how she sees herself. Or what she thinks others think of her.
She’s special. Just like you and me.
More on this. I’d like to hear from you.