By Chris Marlink
Our family was having a rough day. As we sat down to dinner, it was clear that an accumulation of slights, grievances, and careless words left us feeling wounded and angry. When asked what had happened during the day, our children immediately began to prosecute their cases against one another; everyone was deemed “a jerk.” In that moment, were not a family that practices honor towards one another.
What occurred to me was that for each aggrieved member of the family, their grievance was all they could see about the offending member of the family. It brought to my mind John Mark Comer’s insightful teaching on a community of honor in a culture of contempt. In that teaching he helps us unpack the different ways that contempt and honor affect our relationships.
If we are contemptuous of someone, we have the tendency to take something that we dislike about them, or an area where we disagree with them, and we make it the whole of them. They become devalued and even worthless in our eyes because they are the “flaw” or the grievance. By contrast, honor is the way we celebrate and recognize the intrinsic value of the person and the good they bring into our life and our community.
When dinner wrapped up, we spent a few minutes listening to the teaching from Pastor Comer, and had the children write out the definition of honor. As an exercise in becoming a community of honor, we went around the table and called out things that we wanted to honor in each other. It turns out there were unique and specific things of value that each of us bring into the family culture. The flaws and grievances weren’t the whole story. Not even close. If anyone was missing from our table, we’d all be poorer because of it; we’d miss that distinct contribution that each member makes. Honoring one another helps us to recognize that.
Honoring one another with shout-outs at the dinner table has become a fairly regular practice in our household. It doesn’t prevent or solve the hurts and wounds that we suffer and inflict. We still need to make space for forgiveness and repair in our relationships. But a practice of regularly honoring one another is a good inoculant against the temptation to think the worst about each other.
Our hope is that this practice in seeing the good in each other doesn’t remain solely a dinnertime exercise. Where there’s disagreement and misunderstanding at school, work, and in the broader community, it’s vital that we learn to see the good in one another first rather than extrapolate our disagreements into an intractable viewpoint about “them.”
How might you practice honoring your family, friends, and those you disagree with this week?
Chris Marlink is a digital media specialist. He manages the social media programs for the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry.