I’m unsure of how to start the conversation about honor. I automatically associate honor with family. Growing up I learned that the Bible teaches “honor your father and mother.” I believed the untruth that “honoring” equals “loyalty.” Disruption of this false pretense unfolded as my life began to challenge that idea. Somewhere in my journey I began to question, “To whom do I bare loyalty to?”
Truth speaks and eventually wins. I learned that loyalty to anyone other than God binds us in an unhealthy allegiance, while honor sets us free to uphold goodness, truthfulness and holiness.
Where honor is real, truth can be spoken, boundaries are placed, obligation ceases and selfless love can begin.
Last week was spent pacing up and down hospital halls, talking to doctors, meeting nurses, sitting, waiting and helping. One of my immediate family members had an extensive procedure, an invasive surgery, and I chose to be there escorting family in and out of the room, reading faces and simply being present. Seven days in the hospital meant believing all people are crafted in the image of God, and love isn’t conditional. My acts of care in the hospital did not erase history or work a magical spell, yet my heart is freer for what I gave. Each of those countless hours was fleeting but something permanent grew inside of me. I cannot explain it, but my heart feels larger.
My friends told me to honor my heart, to listen and guard it, and during tough moments some stepped in to speak truth. Last week they cautioned me, “You do not have to be there, and make sure to take care of yourself.”
As I replayed the scene to my therapist, she asked me what I made of the situation. And I did not know a direct answer to that question, because I can go in a thousand directions. My heart varies.
Forgive me if this feels abstract, but speaking feels risky.
It was my honor to be at the hospital. My acts were a sacrifice and yet also an offering that felt sacred. It required more of my soul to risk offering deep compassion and to trust Jesus would enter in even more.
I’m reminded of the outlandish essence of Jesus washing Judas’ feet, holding hopeful space, offering the man who betrayed him another chance at repentance and grace. Jesus honors our good, even when we cannot.
At Jesus’ last meal, he honored Judas by washing his feet with other disciples. Here we see unmerited grace in action. What if loving well means choosing to love those who’ve harmed you, even enemies or offering acts of honor to the least honorable? After all, Jesus said do as I have done, which is a bold and expectant call.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Restore One, where she works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.