THE HOUSE TESTIMONY PART 2: The Honor of it All
“Why didn’t you just leave?” I’m sure many of you were wondering this after reading Part 1. I don’t blame you. It seems like an obvious solution.
During my season of being smoked out of my home, I had multiple friends who pleaded with me to pack up my things and move out. They were certain my apartment management wouldn’t come after me for all the associated fees if I broke my lease. They were probably right – I could have left at any time.
While they were trying to simply care for me and help me out of a tough situation, my friends’ advice truly wasn’t beneficial at all. I could have temporarily solved the problem and moved myself into a better apartment. But I wouldn’t have walked through the heart work God needed to accomplish for this next season and I’m positive I wouldn’t be in this house right now.
Friends, how you carry yourself as you exit one season is exactly how you will enter your next season.
I wanted to do so honorably.
First, I honored the space itself.
I’ve always had a personal policy with any apartment I’ve rented: steward it well by leaving the space cleaner than I found it. This wasn’t difficult with my Franklin apartment. This apartment complex should have been classy. Again, it was in Franklin, not Antioch. It was gated with all the amenities. It looked super nice when I toured the place. But it was nasty, y’all. The previous renter had cats, which was obvious by the cat hair in the dishwasher on move-in day. IN THE DISHWASHER! The walls, floors, windows, cabinets – everything was in bad shape.
What people are seeing now is a brand new home, perfect and customized to my liking, (all neutrals inside, obviously) with floors so clean you could eat off of them. What people didn’t see was me polishing my previous floors with my tears and scrubbing someone else’s pet stains out of the carpet. When people walk into my home today, they smell new drywall and fresh paint. They didn’t see me spend an entire weekend scrubbing the grease and layers of dust off the window blinds in my apartment, or wash the walls twice a week so they didn’t carry the stench of cigarettes.
Second, I honored the people.
I will always choose to honor those in authoritative positions because God put them there. And yes, my apartment manager was in a position of authority over me. She didn’t “work for me” because I paid her each month. She had authority over a space I was borrowing. I felt incredibly disrespected by her, but my goal was to make sure she couldn’t say the same about me. I always went above and beyond to show kindness to her, even when I was livid with the situation.
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 NLT
I also honored my neighbors. Early on, God opened my eyes to one specific way I could be praying for them. It was apparent my downstairs neighbors were smoking in the bedroom each morning. Guys, a person who can’t even get out of bed to depend on a chemical addiction first thing in the morning is not a person experiencing the fullness of God. That is a level of despair I’ve never personally experienced. So first thing every morning I would pray into their depression. I would pray blessings into their life and that joy would cross their path daily. This kept me focused on showing them grace instead of judgement.
Now, I FOR SURE wasn’t always a beaming ray of sunshine. I had a lot of angry temper tantrums alone with the Lord. I can’t even count the number of times I stormed downstairs to yell at my neighbors in the middle of the night just to be stopped at the last minute by the Lord asking me to go back upstairs and sit with Him. He had me read certain chapters of my pastor’s book, The Opposite Life night after night after night as I learned to deny my flesh and walk in His Spirit. Laying down my pride and offense to honor those who were blatantly dishonoring me was hard-learned. But I’ve seen God grant favor because of my obedience this past year. The house is just the biggest, most tangible example.
Third, I honored the covenant.
Yes, my lease was a covenant agreement. We don’t tend to value contracts and agreements like we should. And we’re quick to dismiss them and walk away if we feel it’s in our right to, or if we’re dissatisfied with how the other party is conducting themselves. But I believe God has a different perspective. We usually only use that word “covenant” when we talk about marriage or one of God’s covenants with us – the big agreements, right? It might sound extreme, but every contract we sign is a covenant. We are to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Keeping our word matters. The promises we give matter. The commitments we make matter.
I’m not currently married, but until I am and even after, I want to esteem each and every agreement with the same significance as a marriage covenant. I want to be a woman of my word. I want God to be able to trust that I will honor my commitments, whether it be a marriage someday or an apartment lease now.
My apartment manager certainly didn’t honor parts of my lease, but that doesn’t excuse me from honoring my end of the agreement.
Someone else’s dishonor toward me never gives me permission to sin and dishonor them in return. So I stayed, paid rent on time, was still a kind and respectful neighbor and tenant, left the apartment squeaky clean, and walked away with a clear conscience. On my way out the door, I didn’t even post the revealing google review that I may or may not have, but definitely did draft up. And I really had to overcome my flesh with this one. I had a million reasons why I should post something. “Lord, other people need to know about this place. It’s not as nice as it looks. I have to warn them!!” Nope. Noooooope.
If God is calling you out of a place, don’t flip it the bird as you walk away. Transition is a normal and frequent part of life. But there is a right and righteous way to walk it out – even when we’ve been hurt or offended.
I am seeing people right now exit one season of their life without honoring the humans around them. People are leaving their churches and trash-talking their pastors all over social media. People are quitting jobs without even so much as giving two weeks notice. Even in the little non-transitional things, people feel the need to always voice their opinion, write the complaint up, post the nasty review. Humans walk in offense by nature, but God asks us to lay that down and walk in humility instead.
Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. Proverbs 19:11 AMP
Pride grows in the petri dish of offense. But it is to your honor and glory to humble yourself and forgive an offense. When we choose to walk in humility God promises to show favor to the humble and lift them up. (1 Peter 5:5-6) The honor you give those who least deserve it will determine the honor God will bestow upon you.
If I have to choose, I’d rather be honored and revered by the Creator of the Universe than demand honor from my rude neighbor.
Are you honoring the people who are disrespecting you? Are you showing honor to the people who disagree with you? Instead of trying to force respect from people or seek revenge for an offense, what would it look like if we as a Church learned to lay down our pride and honor each and every individual as an image-bearer of God? Imagine the blessing and favor that would line our path as we walked into our next seasons.