Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love their socks off

Not being one to turn down a blogging prompt, I decided to write about Hearts at Home Blog Hop topic for the month. That being the idea of comparing ourselves to others and how we just need to stop doing it. That's all well and good, isn't it? To say it is not good to compare ourselves with others, but it is another thing completely to actually stop doing so. Unless we look a little deeper at why we play this comparison game, it isn't something that we will be able to really stop because we won't have fixed the problem that is the cause of it.

Comparing ourselves to others can run two ways. The first is that we compare ourselves to other people and we turn up lacking; the second is others come up lacking in comparison to ourselves. And if you're anything like me, if you have found someone who makes you feel inferior, you will quickly find someone else who boosts your ego with their supposed failings. Written out like that in black and white it looks pretty ugly, huh? So why do we do this?

I believe that it is our own sinful selfishness at work here. We get so caught up with ourselves that we cease to care about the humanity of others. The more we care and love another person, the less likely we are to see them as a merely an outward grouping of characteristics and see them more as a real person. Someone will always be thinner, more organized, more outgoing, smarter, or more beautiful than you... at least how you view yourself. And someone will also always be heavier, shyer, scatterbrained, or slower than you... at least how you view yourself. If we don't see others in their full humanity, we also often do not see ourselves in our full humanity, either. We either focus on our strengths and not admit our weaknesses or we only see our weaknesses and do not give credit to ourselves for our strengths. We are not terribly objective about ourselves or others.

Because we are not objective, we humans are most comfortable with conformity. If everyone is the same, then it is more difficult to compare. But God doesn't do sameness. Look around you and see how incredibly diverse and creative the world is, and that extends to humans as well. Humans come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Not one of us is the same. Even identical twins are different. I don't think it was coincidence that Paul writes about how we are all parts of one body, but each with a different function in 1 Corinthians 12 and then immediately follows with a description of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13:

"Love is patient and kind; loves does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Cor. 13: 4-7, ESV)

It is as if God knew that we would have trouble accepting the differences among us and was telling us how to manage it. A wise friend of mine once used the phrase "loving someone's socks off" in relation to a difficult person. I love this. If we are so focused on loving one another's socks off, then we have no time to compare ourselves with them. If we are so busy making another person feel loved then we have no time to wallow in how rotten we feel because we don't think we measure up. If we make truly loving another person our goal, there is no way we can feel superior to them.

If you've ever tried to correct a bad habit, you know that unless you put another habit in its place, it's virtually impossible to do. So just deciding that we are going to stop comparing ourselves with others is a start, but unless we put another habit of the mind in place, it will feel like a futile goal. Instead, we need to decide that we need to work on really loving the people we come in contact with is what we are going to focus on, then that is something we can use to change our focus.

Love their socks off.

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