What do you think of when you hear the word sovereignty?
It's not a word I've really thought much about in my life. My initial thoughts are of royalty, the monarchy and the sovereignty of God. I definitely think of authority and power.
In the past week I've had the word 'sovereignty' show up as a topic on two newsletters I receive. It caught my attention because it is a word I don't hear used frequently, especially in reference to self-development or leadership.
At first I found it very difficult to relate to it as concept in my own life. And I've been sitting with it and thinking about what it means personally. So, why not write about it? During this process I decided to do a search on 'personal sovereignty'. And I was surprised that there is so much written on this topic. Surprised in a 'have I been living under a rock' kind of way.
Nisha Moodley defines it as, "Sovereignty is the union of freedom and power within." Using this definition, sovereignty is about recognizing and stepping into a place of authority in your own life. It is having boundaries. Learning to disconnect from other people's approval - whether it be checking your social media accounts to see how many 'likes' you have or making decisions to please others. It is about honouring yourself and claiming your own power in your life and allowing others the right to do the same. Being in a sovereign relationship with yourself means knowing you are the one who ultimately determines your choices regardless of your circumstances. I think of Viktor Frankl's writings.
I've been mulling this over and thinking about how looking at each other as 'sovereignty' could alter the way we interact with each other. It's deeper than a flippant 'you do you' attitude but an acknowledgment of all that you are and treating you with respect. It is the 'I-Thou' relationship that Martin Buber writes about.
One of the emails I received this week was from Christine Valters Paintner. In it she writes, "Sovereignty is in many ways a midlife word. We don’t really begin to live into our own power until we have grown wise enough to recognize our limitations as well."
This week I was watching a video clip of Mr. Rogers. There is a context to that event but I'll just share a clip with you here. I think his gift was to recognize the sovereignty of the other. Notice how he looks at the boy in this video. It's quite moving.
Sovereignty. It's a word I want to continue thinking about. And I am entertaining making myself a crown as a visual reminder!