Want to know how I can tell if you have respect for someone? I listen to the words and tone you use when you tell a story about them. Respect comes to life in relationships and story.
Story and respect are soulmates.
Leona Elenora Renatta Richter Fischer
It was a long name, given by her German parents, who also gave her Jesus. Whom she, in turn, gave me. My grandmother was my spiritual mentor. She poured Jesus into me for decades. And she embodied FiveTwo’s value “Respect for all,” perhaps because she remembered her past. From a poor family in The Grove,Texas, she and Papa were sharecroppers early in marriage, eventually working their way up to delivering Lone Star beer and packing boxes of Hefty trash bags on an assembly line. When I lived with them my freshman summer of college, I made more money than both combined while interning at Texas Instruments basically doing nothing.
Yet theirs was never a regretful or bitter story. Instead, thankfulness and respect poured from them. Whether the waitress they met for the first time or the friend of mine I invited for Christmas dinner, all were welcome. All were worthy of belonging simply because all had a story.
Which was one of Grandma’s hallmarks: she wanted to know your story. Really know. She’d ask questions about your family, your loves, your career. She listened now and later would remember the details and pray for the struggles.
No one had ever taught her knowing someone’s story communicated great respect for a person. She never openly said that to me. But that’s what happened when she was in the room. Respect flowed from her as she listened to your narrative.
What’s Your Story?
When I ask about your story and take your story to heart, connection happens. We now have shared history. I understand why you don’t like pastors since that one wouldn’t do your dad’s funeral. I gain insight into why you love vacations since you never had one growing up. I appreciate your addiction to pizza and abhorrence of Chianti. That Italian aunt really did a number on you.
Getting to know your story allows me to understand why you are you. And when I allow your story to become part of my story, why you are you becomes part of why I am me. My life is richer, and your heart, fuller. Listening to story demonstrates respect and creates respect.
Are you able to respect someone if you don’t know their story? I would hope so. Respect for someone shouldn’t depend on their story; it should flow from their person. Specifically from the fact they are a person. They are one of the crown creations of the Creator. They are worthy of our ears.
But if you want to create respect and start off well, then get to know their story.
It’s the sacramental way.