One of my many ministerial agreements upon ordination is to “honor all life”. Sometimes that is a hard thing to do when not every action is honorable. Maybe I should say, some actions are not honorable. All I can say in this circumstance is to see the God part of a person and separate it from their actions. We all have wrong actions until we learn otherwise.
Another part of honoring life is honor of the animal kingdom. They serve us well here on earth as companions, and part of the ecosystem, and they are just plain lovely. (At least most of them!) Remember, God gave us dominion over them. We decide what is best for them when they belong to us. Sometimes they are like children. We can’t exactly divide the creation part of them from their actions, though, because they have instinct and basic animal traits that belong uniquely to them.
I know this might not be the most popular view, but honoring all life also means NOT at the expense of ourselves. It makes no difference if we are talking about humans or animals. Jesus taught us to love our neighbor, “as ourselves.” Basically speaking we tend to honor others in the mirror of who we are. Honor has to belong to ourselves first before we can give it. We come first. Honor can mean a lot of things. It can mean caring enough about ourselves to not accept a certain environment, or to need to make decisions that might seem dishonoring but in fact are honorable.
No one can give out of an empty bucket, so the only way to give is from the reflection of having had given to ourselves first. Sometimes stepping away from bad situations might seem like abandonment when it fact it is more like self preservation. Putting others’ needs in front of our own is an honorable thing but if there is nothing to give from, who do we dishonor? Yes, you guessed it: ourselves. When we dishonor ourselves we also dishonor God who lives within us.
Have wisdom in being honorable. Honor the God part of you, honor yourself, fill yourself up, and then make decisions out of that overflow. It might seem selfish but really it’s not. Since when did self care become too selfish? Know God, know yourself and then seek to know others. You will automatically attract honorable people when you are fully honoring to yourself. Plus, you will make honorable decisions when it comes to the lives of those who are around you and also depend on you.
Loving you from here,
Dr. Rev Jenine Marie Howry