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Respect…is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.

Annie Gottlieb

I recently returned from a vacation with my family to a crowded amusement park. Waiting in lines or sitting down to eat food, I found many opportunities to watch people around me interact. One incident during the dinner rush in a crowded restaurant stood out to me. I had just asked an employee where I could find some extra napkins, as I was dining with my three kids and would inevitably need them, and had a very positive interaction with her. As I turned to complete my napkin quest, a woman hurried up to the counter and asked in a demanding tone where the utensils were. She allowed the employee the briefest response before storming off without so much as a word. Even in the brief interaction, the guest treated the employee poorly, offering her no kind smile, polite thanks, or courteous respect. It’s entirely likely that this guest had a pressing reason for being so short. (Perhaps she, too, was dining with three overly-tired children!) The fact remained, though, that my own interaction was nearly as brief but held an entirely different tone. It led me to ponder just how much of an impact we can have when intentionally respecting those around us.

It is likely that most of us are aware of this impact and attempt to be polite, kind, and respectful in our interactions with others. I wonder, though, if we extend this respect to ourselves as well. I learned to recognize this in myself during an impactful conversation with my sister. At a time of discouragement and low self-esteem, I expressed to her some of the ways I believed I was inadequate. I was taken aback by my sister’s response as she said, “Stop talking about my sister that way!” This one sentence still runs through my head when I find myself engaging in negative self-talk, and it serves to remind me that I deserve respect from myself.

This month, our talented team of writers share with us their insights on our tenet: We are each unique and innately worthy of respect. Shelli explores the paths she chose and expresses the validity of choosing for yourself the most meaningful paths. Norma urges us to avoid libelous labels and instead view others as God would. Kaylee reminds us to remember and honor our potential, and Micki discusses the strength that can be drawn from the company you keep.

Additionally, Emily introduces us to a new writer, Jenny, who shares her experience in finding purpose and happiness through reverence and connection with God.

We hope you feel inspired by these articles this month as you appreciate the unique and impactful people around you!