As (blank) as

As humans, we are incredibly gifted at sorting. We distinguish between colors and sounds and speeds and styles. Often this is wonderful, delightful, life-saving. At times this is devastating.

On Friday, my friend Chris identified something that I do as being inspiring for him.I’m grateful that I help him in that way, but I look at the rest of his list and think, “Why am I here? I’m not as (blank) as those guys.”  in fact, I’m not even as (blank) as Chris.

You see how destructive this thinking is? I mean, a guy who inspires me, a guy who is on my desktop, lists me as being helpful. I react with, “Thank you, but…” And the risk is that I spend so much energy on the process of being humble that I don’t go ahead and do whatever it is I do.

And I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone. I end up talking to lots of people about life and at least some of them about spiritual components of life. I find people constantly comparing themselves to others, saying “That person is really spiritual. I could never be that way.”

Which is, if you will forgive my bluntness, dumb.

I’m looking at some Bible people these days, people that get ignored or scolded or used as examples of how not to be. In fact, even people who don’t know much about church stuff have heard about “doubting Thomas.” There’s a person named Martha who always gets identified as the unspiritual of two sisters, the one who was too busy to spend enough time listening to Jesus.  There’s a guy named Philip who appears in a really cool story and then disappears from the exciting stuff for a couple decades and then is “just” a dad.

What I’m realizing as I’m doing some studying is that each of those people, the people who aren’t as famous as Paul or Peter, those people are the one’s who are like us, normal people. And Jesus didn’t ignore them or write them off. In fact, the famous people did some pretty silly things. I’m guessing that they spent some time saying, I wish I could be as (blank) as Thomas.

I may talk more here about some of those people. I may not. But I’m thinking that I glad that you’re not as (blank) as I am. Because I’m not as (blank) as you are. And we really need someone like you.

5 responses to “As (blank) as

  1. Comparisons are tricky things, and we all know that we can’t really live up to our own hype, let alone aspire to be more like X, even when X is a famous prophet who used to saw the occasional board.

    You inspire me. I inspire others. We are all His children, so we each get a turn. Seems fair.

  2. We were talking at our house the other day about the youngest son being “comfortable in his own skin”. In reading through your post, Jon, and also Chris’ derivative post, it makes me wonder how people get okay-thinking enough about who they are that they don’t get sucked into the “I wish I was as (blank) as…” game.

    As a parent, I’m 100% for helping our kids know who they are in Christ as part of spiritual formation…that’s critical But I also think that another big thing we can do, which can also be part of that and very personal to each child,is to affirm the giftings and skills our kids come with and that surface as they go through life…period. Not in comparison with a sibling’s (blanks) or with someone else’s child’s (blanks). Maybe as our children grow up acknowledging their own (blanks) as a very cool part of who they are, they won’t be so tempted to compare themselves with others.

    Along with that, I think we can point out others’ (blanks) in the context of your last thought: “I’m thinking that I glad that you’re not as (blank) as I am. Because I’m not as (blank) as you are. And we really need someone like you.”

  3. I love your thought, Chris, that we even struggle in comparison to ourselves. some of us are afraid of doing well for fear that we will have to live up to that standard. Amy adds a wonderful dimension by celebrating the coolness, not in comparision but in itself.

    As humans we compare. (The first murder? Your sacrifice was better than mine.) But if we share as we compare, if we acknowledge that gifts come undeserved (that’s why they ar called gifts), if we can understand multiple intelligences, …

  4. I love your photo.

    When I first came to read this, I had just wandered away from Twitter with the thought- I am not as connected as these folks.

    As a parent this is big- this is huge this is wildly important and with wavering confidence as said parent- as parent, child, spouse, writer, friend, it’s something that should be put to bed.

    I’m with Amy: “I’m thinking that I glad that you’re not as (blank) as I am. Because I’m not as (blank) as you are. And we really need someone like you.”