I swung into the parking lot of the grocery store and switched on my favorite radio station. I stabbed the straw in the to-go cup and unwrapped the burger. It was lunch time. I had exactly twelve minutes to eat because I needed forty five minutes to purchase groceries and then high tail it to school to pick up the girls on time. Without much enthusiasm, I ate my burger and looked around the parking lot. With surprise, I noted I was one of four women eating lunch in her car. As I ate the burger that I had purchased for convenience not preference, I caught the irony of my situation.

I respect my family enough to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits as well as whole grain breads, but I don’t respect myself enough to sit down in a restaurant and eat the salad that I desired. Instead I was shortchanging myself. My goal for this errand was to feed others, but I wasn’t respectfully feeding myself.

The word “respect” stuck with me as I loaded the groceries into the van and then headed to school. Not surprisingly I found myself singing along with Aretha Franklin “R-E-S-P-E-C-T  . . .  find out what it means to me.”  What does it mean to me that I provide for others and don’t do so for myself? What happened to making sure I am fed?

And of course I don’t just mean eating the salad I want. Getting fed embodies all areas of my life. Respecting myself means taking time to do the things that energize me. It means spending time with people who know me and know God. My goal for January is to respect myself. When I find myself impatient and flustered because of the demands of the schedule, I mentally ask, “Are you respecting yourself? Are you treating yourself the way you expect others to treat you?” If the answer is no, I stop the activity. All of us are created in the image of God. Our worth is assured through our creation. Because we answered the call to help feed others (literally and spiritually) we must honor our work by respecting ourselves. Respect. What does it mean to you?

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.