A few days ago, I had the privilege of going to a water-park with my Angels and another mom and her two sons. All of the children were young–the oldest was a boy about eight.

You know how hungry swimming makes you. Well, we were starved, and so after we left the park we went for lunch. While sitting at the table–three adults, four children–the eldest boy said something I didn’t catch. His mother said, “That wasn’t my son talking.”

The boy paused, clearly thinking about that, then looked at his mother and said, “I wasn’t respecting myself.”
I nearly wept.  Here this child reconsidered his words and determined that they were inappropriate because they didn’t show self-respect.

We went on, ate our meal, laughed and joked and had a great day.  But his words lingered in my mind and now, days later, they still linger.  What a fantastic gift his parents have given him!  What a wonderful bit of wisdom he’s perceived and processed and taken into his spirit.   He judged his words and the worth of them based on self-respect.  Not on the perception by others, but on what he determined they reflected about him to himself.

I’m not sure that even now I’m conveying this with the appropriate magnanimity it deserves.  The event was typical to him, profound and significant to me.  It wasn’t narcissistic.  It wasn’t some sense of self-inflated importance.  It wasn’t self-centered, selfish or self-indulgent.  The boy knew his mind and heart and what was honorable to him and what traits he wanted to associate with himself–and what traits he did not want to associate.

Many adults don’t know these things or have that sense of self, and yet this child not only knew but had established his own personal boundaries.  A philosophy that honored and respected him.  I know God had to be smiling at that!

Just as I know we’d do well to follow this child’s example.  The Bible in 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to “show proper respect to everyone.”  Respect, like love, begins at home in us.  We must first respect ourselves before we’re capable of truly respecting others.

We’re very good at chewing ourselves up and hashing over (and rehashing) our every error and flaw.  We give what we do wrong a lot of attention.  But not nearly as often do we give ourselves credit for what we do right.  We inventory and see everything “bad” but don’t spend half the time reviewing our assets.  And that, in real terms, means we’re not respecting ourselves.

The lesson to us from this child is that we should determine what we respect and then work to adopt those traits, taking them in and making them a natural part of us.  On a spiritual level, it’s our obligation and responsibility.

God fashioned us purposefully and with great precision.  We are the body of Christ.  Think about that a second.  Each of us is a segment of a sacred whole.  Christ–God is with us–perfection.  This, we, through Him, warrant deep respect.  The utmost, most sincere respect.  The kind of respect that has us sitting at a table pondering our words and determining whether or not our words, actions and deeds reflect that respect gifted to us from the Most High.

Respect for others is the natural outgrowth of self-respect.  If we exercise self-respect, then there is no way we can interact with others without it.  Why?  Because any disrespect would be a lack of self-respect.  Those words, actions or deeds would have us at odds with ourselves.

Recognizing this raises two questions worth asking and answering:

1.  Are you functioning at odds with yourself, or are you conducting yourself in a manner that honors who you are, what you believe?

We all know the blessings and inner peace that comes with harmony on this.  And we know the bitter challenges that arise when we are not in harmony.

2. Are you respecting yourself?

Not just on the “big” things.  But on everything.  If we start from that point–the point of self-respect–we’re positioned for great leaps on our spiritual journey.  I’m going to remember that.

And I’m going to really listen when kids talk.  Like this young one, they have much to say worth hearing, remembering–and worth emulating.



©2008, Vicki Hinze



How many chances does one get to get things right?

We’re mistake-ridden.  We make errors in judgment, use criteria that later proves faulty.  We goof, screw up, mess up.  We blow off when we should embrace, embrace when we should shun, shun when we should hold on with both hands in white-knuckle grips.

We don’t set out to do the wrong thing, or say the wrong thing, or to hurt others.  We often don’t realize that we have until we discover it later–sometimes through a third party.  It isn’t arrogance, we’re just, well, clueless.

Everyone has moments where they’re clueless.  Everyone takes a staggered step and slides off into a ditch now and then.  We’re human, and even if we are acting deliberately, thoughtfully, and with care, we’re going to make mistakes.

It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  And really it isn’t a matter of the mistake we make so much as it is a matter of our reaction to it.

Will we react reasonably, feel genuine contrition?  Will we attempt to make the wrong right, make amends?  Will we bury our head in the sand and ignore, hoping the challenge will go away?  Will we deny making the mistake at all because it causes us less trouble, worry, ridicule and/or fewer challenges?

Here’s a tip:  the challenge won’t go away.   When you get out of denial, it’ll still be there.

Another tip:  You can beat yourself up for the mistake for the rest of your life and the only thing you’ll be accomplishing is a good beating up.

Instead, opt for a constructive solution.  Fix what you can, and move on, remembering what you need to remember to avoid the same mistake, but not remembering so much that it renders you paralyzed and incapable of putting the past behind you and moving to the future.

Chances aren’t numbered.  They aren’t rationed out or restricted.  They aren’t withheld.  Humans might do those things but God never does.  He promised never to leave or forsake.  There were no exceptions.  No, okay, you’ve got a thousand chances and that’s it.  You blow it this time, and I’m gone for good.  None of that.  He will never leave or forsake us.  Never.  So if you need 1001, you’ve got it.  You get what you need, and that’s good news for those of us who goof up a lot (and that’s most of us).

There is a good side to making mistakes–in addition to learning from them and moving on down the path on our own journey.  There’s the ancillary good.  Knowing what we think, what we believe, how we feel.  Becoming aware of what makes us tick and where we draw our lines in the sand and why we draw them.  Aware, we are in a position to make adjustments.  To accept new ideas, thoughts, beliefs.  To reject those that we’ve carried in our minds and hearts that prove false or no longer fit the person we’ve become.

There’s also a precious, significant gift.  And that is we are privileged to experience grace.  Firsthand.  Love in spite of our actions.  Forgiveness for them, for wrongs we’ve committed both knowingly or unknowingly.

When we make a mistake–on purpose or by default–it eats at us.  When we are less than honest, less than wholly open, we carry that baggage.  In living, we accumulate a lot of baggage.  And after a time (and before we know it) we’re lugging around a ton of it.  And–this is a biggee–it’s heavy!

Heavy on the mind, heavy on the heart, and heavy on the soul.  We stagger under the weight of it.  We can get it off our minds or out of our heads.  We feel soiled, empty.  We suffer pain, and when it gets strong enough and we get weary enough, we want a chance–some sign that there’s hope to get beyond it.  That desire might be a tiny spark, a pale flame, and maybe we’re so broken and suffering so much all we can manage to summon it is a faint whimper.

But that’s all it takes.  And then we have another chance.  And another.  And another.  And still yet another.

Over and again chances present themselves to us.  Maybe not in the form or manner or through the person we expected, but another chance appears.

People restrict chances.  They make their love, time and/or attention contingent on specific things.  “If you do this for me, I will love you.  If you do this, I’ll let you see the children, the grandchildren.  If you do what I want, when I want, the way I want–regardless of what I do–then your reward will be another chance.”

That’s too often the human way.  What it really is is blackmail or extortion.  That’s no chance at all.  These might be the ways of the world.  The realities of interactions with human beings, but they are  not the ways or the realities of God.  With Him, you ask, you receive.

You must ask and you must be willing to receive.  He honors that free will promise.  But if you do ask and you are willing to receive, then you need not fear you’ve used up your share of allotted chances.

He always has one more.

The other day, my eldest angel gave me a neck-cracker hug.  She said, “Gran, don’t worry.”  Her little face was so serious.  “I never run out of hugs.  There’s always more.”

God is that way with chances.  He never gives up on us.  He remains ever hopeful that we’ll turn or return to Him.  We’ve all heard/read the versus on forgiveness.  A repentant offended one is forgiven seventy times seven.   But even that isn’t a literal number.  It was an illustration of infinite opportunity.

We’re stretching and growing.  We’re going to misstep and mess up.  It’s inevitable.  We’re imperfect humans.  But knowing that when we do mess up, He’s there to catch us, to encourage us, to bind our wounds, heal our broken hearts and pour strength into our weary souls, well, that makes stretching and growing a bit easier.  We’re not out on the end of that frail limb alone.  There’s power in that.  Courage to dare, to risk in that knowledge.

And just as one who loves never runs out of hugs, we, receiving love, never run out of chances.



©2008, Vicki Hinze

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