During Memorial Day weekend, I was blessed to be amongst family to witness the marriage of my cousin to the love of his life in Brooklyn, New York. No matter the event or location...I love that my family will gather to celebrate each others’ lives on a consistent basis.  I recall when my brother married a few years ago in Portland, Oregon...which happens to be nowhere near the city of Cleveland where most of my family resides...but it didn't matter because the distance couldn't stop a majority of my aunts, uncles, and first cousins from flying across the country to witness one of the most important commitments in his life. Memorial Day weekend, that same majority gathered in Brooklyn to celebrate another life long commitment. During this intimate wedding and reception, there was a special moment that opened my eyes to something that has been in my face my entire life and I didn't fully grasp its significance until then...   


My uncle, the father of the groom, was the only person who spoke during the reception. Before he blessed the food, he took the time to elaborate on how the groom was his youngest child, his only son, in whom he was extremely proud. He stated that his son chose a wonderful woman for his wife and expressed how happy he is to call her his daughter. He explained that both the groom and the bride's families must now choose to come together and love one another because of this wonderful union.  He extended a warm welcome to the bride's family and informed them that they may call upon us if they needed anything. He spoke about how his son has continuously honored him and his mother, as parents, and although they are still his parents...he is to honor his wife first...and in doing so, it will never take away from honoring them. Lastly, he said, " I want to bless this food with a prayer that I learned from someone I hold in high regard, my late great father-in-law, Garlen Abernathy Sr." (my grandfather), and then he prayed.   


He only spoke for about 2 to 3 minutes max...but what he did in that small amount of time was powerful. He honored his son, honored his daughter in-law, extended our love to her family, he made sure his son knew that honoring his wife is now his first priority, and last but not least, he chose to honor my grandfather. 


I've thought about his speech since the wedding and this morning I came to the realization that I was raised in a family where we were taught to honor each other. Honor is the key ingredient that keeps my family so tight knit with each other and it was taught by example. 


My grandfather was the sixth of twelve children. His father (my great-grandfather) taught them that they had to get along and they weren't to argue and fight with each other.  My grandfather passed that down to my father, my aunt, and two uncles…and they passed it down to my siblings, my first cousins, and me. Our grandfather continuously told all of us to take care of each other and always honor, respect, and love each other because family is all you have. 


Like any other family, we'll have our disagreements but my grandfather was adamant about us finding a solution quickly so that bitterness wouldn't set in and ruin the bond that we have built. The key word is finding a solution, which benefits the entire family.  I'm thankful that I've heard this my entire life because it is engrained in me and has extended to my generation of the family.


Respect and honor are often viewed as synonymous, but just because you respect someone doesn't mean that you honor them. There are several people we respect for the content of their character, skill set, and impact on society.   However, respect is a prerequisite to being honored. The people we honor in our lives are already respected by us and in addition are held in HIGH REGARD... But, more importantly, honor is part of a behavior.  We can see how much we honor our love ones in the way we speak, react, approach, care for and show love toward one another.


It's so common to see my family honoring each other that seeing the overwhelming amount of dishonor occurring in our society is always shocking to me.  What is most disturbing is how honor is the key thing missing in numerous types of relationships today from parent/child to teacher/student to customer/business to romance. There are so many times when one notices the disrespect and the lack of honor.  But, honor begins at home.


Growing up, I made my fair share of mistakes. I was foolish, like most children and even more foolish in my teenage years. I lied to my parents and did a few stupid things that landed me in trouble.  But, I'm truly thankful that when I made mistakes, my parents still honored me as their son. They never cursed me out, degraded me, or made me feel stupid or worthless because of the poor choices I made. They did punish and correct me out of love, but somehow they managed to discuss only the mistakes and why they were indeed mistakes. Then they would begin to build me up, encourage me and point me in the right direction.  


To be honest...even if your parents didn't give you this type of honor...you should honor them because they gave you life!   That is one of the many reasons I honor my parents. They chose to give me life.  I also honor them because they continue to lead by example. It is important to note that we are all being watched. People are watching to see how to honor family and how to honor each other in love. 


I have never seen my parents embarrass each other! When in public, they've never cut each other off while one of them is speaking. They've never belittled each other, and they've never intentionally tried to make the other person look or feel bad when in the company of others. They ALWAYS support each other no matter the circumstance.  Even if one of them says something out of line in public...the other manages to create an environment of support. They protect each other out of the honor that they have for one another.  It's their decision to do so because "Honor" is a choice...


“No person was ever honored for what they received. Honor has been the reward for what they gave.”   — Calvin Coolidge


I love that quote because it focuses on honoring being a reward for giving!


Think about this for a second...

How many relationships do you see where a man is honoring a woman for the time and sacrifices she has made for him?  How many times do you see a relationship where a woman is honoring a man for the time and sacrifices he has made for her?  Well, you are blessed to be able to witness relationships where there is much sacrifice and much giving. When there is much giving you will see examples of honor and loyalty because when honor is the principal part of a relationship, it's a beautiful thing. 


Sometimes, people refer to this type of kindness and giving as a sign of weakness...but they are mistaken.  When someone has chosen to continuously bend over backwards for you...why wouldn't you want to do the same for them? Honor is what makes relationships grow! Honor blesses all types of relationships.  It is what creates friendships and solidifies relationships between children and parents. It's a catalyst for growth.


It's shameful to see someone give all of their being to someone and not receive the deserved honor. It's so popular to see people embarrass and belittle others in public, and I hate seeing it every time it happens.... The saddest part is that sometimes, honor is missing in romantic relationships. This is unfortunate because no one forces anyone to be in a romantic relationship...one chooses to be with that person. What I don't understand is how you say you love someone that you do not honor? 


For me personally...Honor is where real love is revealed...


- Honor says I will serve you  (most people want to be served and not do the serving). 

- Honor is giving out of love (some people see giving as a weakness). 

- Honor is letting someone know through your words and your actions that they're a great person that you hold in high regard.

- In some cases Honor is loving someone who doesn't deserve your love...and choosing to love your way through the ridiculousness and pray it gets better (children, parent, and marriage relationship- for better or worse some people can't live through the worse)

- Honor is listening to someone who loves you enough to correct you for your benefit when you're wrong. You might be upset initially but honor will make you sit there and listen and rethink a situation. 

- Honor is respecting your elders! A person who is well raised knows elders deserve honor...that doesn't mean you have to believe or do what they say, but you respect them for their survival. You listen and maintain a respectful tone when speaking to your elders.

- Lastly, in love...Honor is always action...


First, consider this…to whom do you give honor?  Be honest with yourself. Do you need to improve in honoring someone? Remember, people are always watching and learning from your behavior.


Next, pay attention to people who honor or dishonor you. Some people give more time to those who dishonor them than to people who honor them. Please note that if people do not honor you, they're wasting your time and theirs...  


Just my thoughts...




Aaron Abernathy