Wrestling with Honor

by Phil Zaffos, LPC

I love words. Hidden in the words we choose, we find clues that lead us to the depths of the heart and soul, from great desire to heavy grief. Words are the offering of a story, bringing to life one’s experience, building a bridge for connection with the world within and around us.

One word has come to stand out recently for me in the stories I have heard: Honor.

I’m wrestling with honor. No one is perfect. No one had a perfect childhood and we have all been harmed on some level. Many people in the journey of counseling struggle to acknowledge this harm in the name upholding honor.

The sentiments are familiar ones: Honor your mother and father, live honorably, A person’s word is their honor.

The original word in Greek (timao) literally translates as price (n) or to price (v) and more loosely, to consider the cost of. And yet I witness people daily hide behind honor (often unintentionally) as a way to avoid or minimize the cost of life events or relationships. For instance, someone refusing to “say anything bad” about their loved one because they did the best they could. To honor is to hold the tension of acknowledging good intentions and the harm done in spite of these intentions.

Honor moves us toward freedom by inviting us to more truly consider the cost of living. Let us begin to hold with honor the cost of having the parents we have. Let us begin to use our words to acknowledge the weight of the world around us. Let us venture boldly into the harm we have met and begin to feel the immensity of its burden.

To consider the cost does not mean an invitation to gossip or talk in demeaning fashion about another in contempt. Contempt is more about degrading another and less about considering the harm done to your heart. Honor leads to a place of compassion toward yourself and those who have harmed, you bringing healing to your heart and freedom in your life.

Phil is a Licensed Professional Counselor and founding director at Foundation Counseling. He enjoys working with groups, individuals and families in the Marietta & Kennesaw area. Learn more about him and other therapists at Foundation Counseling here.

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