A word I highly regard and a concept I revere as a moral compass is HONOR. Honor means to respect highly, to hold in/with great esteem. Honor can be a code of adherence to a standard of conduct; something perceived as a rare opportunity, a privilege; or something conferred as a distinction for bravery or achievement, a high level of award for exemplary behavior or fulfillment of duty/obligation. Honor is the kind of word that inspires me to desire it at the center of my own being and doing. Honor requires honesty, diligence, character, and congruence.
In Philippians 4:8 (RSV), Paul writes, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I remember the Commandment, “Honor your Father and your Mother.” Many religious and spiritual writings speak highly of honor as chosen methodology for a holy life. When I am honorable, I can be authentically congruent, in integrity with what I say, do, and mean—aspiring to bring my best self for the highest expression of goodness with dedicated commitment to be diligent, honest, and aligned with my best excellence with every endeavor.
Living a life of honor means I don’t compromise or take short cuts to make life easier. I remain true to my vision of being and honor all intentions that create that vision of the best me I can be.
When I was a young girl, I was very achievement oriented. I sought to accumulate honors—whether it be good grades, prestigious awards, winning talent shows, speech contests, lead roles in plays, or scholarships—I was driven to garner awards because I wanted recognition. Achievements and Awards gathered me attention and praise from my parents, which for me equaled knowing that I was loved, worthy, and succeeding in pleasing my most esteemed, beloved people, those I sought to honor and in turn, be recognized by. Everything else was accoutrement. This kind of attention achieving is not honorable or honor producing. In my youth, it was my translation and misinterpretation that produced my constant search for love and acceptance as outside begotten “honors”.
As I matured, I realized honor was more than excelling to please my parents or to create the illusive feeling that I was “enough”. To truly live an honorable life requires purity of heart, intention, and vision. Honor isn’t an ego-driven limousine; rather, it is like a bulky wagon I pull to wherever I choose to go because I know it is a congruent means to carry the burdens, gifts, and belongings of a life well-lived. Humility, vulnerability, and unknowing strengthen my endeavor to maneuver with this heavy, laborious vehicle I drag with me everywhere. Sometimes, I abandon my load in a ditch by the roadside as I propel my unburdened self forward in high gear. A few blocks down the street, I pause, turn around, and retreat to the muddy mire in which it is stuck to retrieve it and continue on my journey.
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew5:8). For me, living in honor brings me closer to oneness with God. Although I falter and fall from my lofty perch of aspiration, I pick myself out of the ditches of defeat, pile my worries, failings, and faults into the muddy wagon to recycle, and move forward toward God, all the while visioning good, love, and possibility surrounding, supporting, and gracing my journey.
To be a person of honor, for me, means seeking truth, goodness, and light in all experience. It means looking for “God” in every situation, and choosing ways of being and doing in my life that are congruent with who God is for me, in alignment with my moral compass, and reflective of my choices of integrity, grace, and compassion as navigators for experience. When I honor another, I see honorable qualities in another, admiring and celebrating how another’s honor inspires and blesses me and our world.
Honor can be subjective for each of us. When life is viewed as black and white, someone may judge one person as honorable, and another as not. To be true to our more or less justifiable beliefs and to be truly honorable requires scrutiny, study, and self-examination before judgment and rigid right and wrong defenses. As I wrote last week, “gray” is often the way to combat the competing wars of good or bad, wrong or right—all of which are illusions keeping honor hidden within the fears and worries of the wagon we pull.
What could our world be like if we could honor ourselves and each other?
What if we aligned our moral compass to love, peace, bless and honor, traveling together to a true north of being and creating?
How exciting if our greeting to each other at every meeting was “Namaste”…