Loyalty

I’ve been thinking about loyalty lately.  Are you a loyal person?  Me?  You want to know if I am? Well, read on.

You can say I’m a product of a broken home and therefore my capability for  loyalty was destroyed with that particular act.  Not trying to place blame here, but looking for some understanding. My parents and I have talked about their amicable divorce and we’re all good, but it changes you, regardless. Or, as a member of Generation X, you could put a positive spin on it and say I’m independent. As a child, I hand-picked my friends based on how loyal I thought they would be to me, especially after my best grade school friend moved to California.  Those girls, though nice, were not particularly compatible with me.  But they were loyal and would be my friend no matter what.  If you hurt me badly, I’m gone.   Call it boundaries if you’d like; I have.

Upon closer examination, I find I’m more loyal towards products I buy than I am towards the people in my life.  I buy the same laundry detergent, never even looking at the competitors.  I have TV shows I watch and if I miss I catch up on them. I buy the same makeup – the same brands, not necessarily the same products – because I know they will work.  I eat at the same restaurants.  Sure, sometimes I branch out, but I rarely find one I like better than the old favorites.  If you’ve eaten in Shelton you know what I mean.  Seventy-seven restaurants and only a handful of them are any good

.I’ve discovered I’m not particularly loyal unless it suits my purposes and my ends.  I feel sorta sheepish admitting this, but there it is.   I’ve had very few friends who were, either. Some of that has to do with the passage of time and changing locations.  I hold no grudges about that.  It is what it is.  Yet, I haven’t found people in leadership positions to be overflowing with loyalty. Politicians come to mind. Pastors move on, voted out by their congregation.  Bosses hire, fire and move on to greener pastures. Where am I supposed to learn this enviable quality?

Perhaps this is why people adore their pets.  Animals love you no matter what. Well, except cats.  Cats are conditionally loyal. It’s legendary, in fact. Keep feeding them and occasionally petting them or let them sit on your lap/sleep on your side of the bed and you’re golden.  You’re in like Flynn, whoever he is.  Dogs are different.  They will love you regardless.  You are their master and they hang on your every command.

Where does that leave me?  Should I be more like a dog or like a cat?  I’m really torn on this one.  Even dogs, when beaten enough, will bite the hand that feeds them.

We should define what it means to be loyal.  Dictionary.com says:

1.faithful to one’s sovereign, government, or state: a loyal subject.

2.faithful to one’s oath, commitments, or obligations: to be loyal to a vow.
3.faithful to any leader, party, or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity: a loyal friend.
4.characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.: loyal conduct.
It seems that loyalty, the quality of being loyal, is a proven virtue. It’s demonstrated faithfulness. It’s not something you can assume about anyone, but it’s revealed by their actions.  So, if I struggle with a lack of loyalty, I can learn to be loyal and show it through my actions. It’s a heart attitude revealed by my behavior. But I think it’s fair to say that people don’t wake up in the morning and say, “Gee, I feel like being disloyal to my spouse/best friend/dog today!” Generally, the actions of another person or habitual patterns in a person’s life cause them to consider loyalty a weakness instead of a strength. It’s self-protection, much like self-centeredness is.  I’m not saying it’s right.  But it serves a purpose.  Trust fewer people, get hurt less often.  Just doing the math, folks.
So…all of this musing and being brutally honest makes me admit, again, that I’m a work in progress.  I’m learning to give people the benefit of the doubt and to believe in their best selves, even though times it looks like I’ve gotten the business end of the fire hose. Like the old saying goes, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions”. I’m learning to cover faults with love.    With God’s help, I can change. He is always for us, no matter how we treat Him. I have a lot to learn.
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2 thoughts on “Loyalty

  1. It occurs to me that loyalty works two ways: we generally think of loyalty as being honorable and faithful to something higher up the hierarchy than us. But if you’re higher up the food chain (say, a pastor) you must equally exhibit loyalty to those who fall under your purview.

    People forget, and drive themselves into conniptions over loyalty because you “must show respect for the bigger thing.” but if you’re bigger, and you don’t show respect to the smaller thing, you aren’t being very honorable at all. Like Ephesians 6. Kinda. Ya know?

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  2. I agree. Sometimes we gloss over the passage that tells parents to not frustrate their child. We have to do our part to be good to them even as we ask them to obey us.

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