I posted last week about a sensitive topic that’s been on my heart for a long time but eluded my words: that it’s a little awkward for us to be teaching people to “stop comparing themselves to others” when we ourselves hold a considerable amount of power over whether they feel the need to compare.
We all have a part to play. Whenever we choose someone else’s companionship or potential over another, we make a comparison. Everyone’s got their A-lists and D-lists, and I’m no exception. I’ve been rejected, and I’ve done some rejecting. And when people learn, in their youth, that they are being compared to others by others, it is only natural that they’ll join in. Lonely people can tell you this better than anyone.
To be sure, our lives are jam-packed and we don’t have time for everyone or everything. But even that feels like an excuse at some point. I know I’ve missed opportunities to show the love of Christ. It makes me wonder what the kingdom would look like if we really celebrated everyone as an image-bearer of God.
What is the Biblical solution?
I entreat you for a respite from our usual Christian talk about how joy and happiness are different things.
Joy is possible in any circumstance, generated by intimacy with God and hope of heaven, not our earthly trappings. I fully embrace that as a central and crucial tenet of our faith. I even embrace the idea, without flinching, that God will withhold happiness if it makes us holier. That is well and truly believed on this blog.
But since I also believe that God does not exactly hate our happiness, let me share a verse from a poem that I ran across yesterday…
I asked God to give me happiness,
And God said, “No”,
He said, “I give blessings,
Happiness is up to you.”
– author unknown
Yes, I know…I took this from a larger poem containing a few other ideas that some might differ on. That’s why I only reproduced this paragraph, because…wow.
How many blessings have we received and not made the most of?
Now, I hate that the previous sentence (and others like it) tend to come across so watery, wispy, and commonplace. Sometimes a little jolt is needed to really make a thought come alive. So let me offer a question I once read, one that truly exploded my contentment and easily counts as one of the top five most mind-blowing things I’ve ever absorbed:
What if God were to announce tomorrow that he would remove from your life everything for which you failed to thank him today?
I have a confession to make.
When I got into a relationship a few years ago, I caught a distinct sentiment running through my head:
“Now it’s my turn to shut people out.”
And sadly, for a while, I did.
Perhaps I’d been roasted too often by some friend disappearing into their own little world upon finding someone. We all know the pain of finding ourselves on a friend’s back-burner. Once we find someone who really gets us, it’s amazing how expendable everyone else suddenly looks.
And that betrays a pretty awful assumption: that relationships are about us.
I’m making an assumption: that we singles are training for our future marriage with our eyes on God. We’re seeking what he wants for us, revealed through Scripture, believing it’s best, choosing even in our relationships to practice as many marriage principles as we can.
So what if Scripture led us to train as if marriage isn’t about us?
If you’ve read my blog lately, you know I devote the occasional post to Reacting to Internet Memes™. I didn’t intend for that habit to happen. Like tofu, it just kinda did.
Today, it’s this (and a collection of similar meme quotes):
“When people walk away from you, let them go.”
“Run, my dear, from anything that may not strengthen your precious budding wings.”
“Letting go of negative people doesn’t mean you hate them. It just means that you love yourself.”
“Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you, and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go.”
You’ve probably seen that. It’s about knowing when to let go of people. (Do not sing Frozen songs at me. I will hit myself with a chair.)
On one hand, I understand. Life would be so much easier if it wasn’t for people. God does say “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). If your walk with God is threatened, we have Biblical basis to pull out of hard relationships. You owe God more than you owe anyone.
But the above collection of quotes – which is bombarding the “keep things positive” side of Facebook right now, I might add, and influencing an entire generation – is speaking of an entirely different motive: letting go of people simply because they are difficult. No character threat, just high-maintenance.
And absent anywhere in that line of thinking is the thought that it might actually not be about you at all.