The topic came up in a conversation: Why do some people feel threatened or offended by another’s abilities? Some said, “Jealousy is the worm that bites those around them.” and some said, “People are strange just brush it off.” but I think it is deeper than that.
Don’t we all have insecurities? And doesn’t it make sense that we should cover those insecurities with anything we can? Why not cover them with pride? And why not allow our pride to be offended when our insecurities are proved correct by someone’s outperforming of us? And why not protect ourselves by always being ‘the best’ at things and making sure everyone else knows that?
The answer: Love doesn’t act that way, love doesn’t feel that way and while love may have insecurities it doesn’t shore them up at others’ expense. Love considers the other person more highly than self- not by denying self’s own abilities but by respecting the person-hood of the beloved regardless of ability.
Think about it: don’t many of us know someone who loves a child (or even an adult) who has few or no abilities? The mentally disabled, the quadriplegic, the long time partner who suffered a stroke, are all examples of those with few abilities whom will still love and serve. We all love to hear how a marriage of many years has continued through the long-term illness of one of the pair. We recognize that self-sacrificing, faithful continuing of care and respect as love.
“I could never do that.” we say. And we are right. We can’t. But grace in us, flowing as love through us can.
What about the person who consistently outperforms us? How do we react? Do we hide? Become super competitive? Downplay ourselves? Become depressed? Isn’t that pride refusing to love the other person by accepting a lower place?
I’ve known a few people who were able to truly love those who were better than they were. They loved to make it clear that this person or that person would be better for a task. They loved to support their beloved and see their children and spouses flourish in that warmth created by love.
Not a false humility here- we need to be honest in our love, but a true valuing of the person and wanting them to shine. Do we do that? Do we see how our friends and families flourish when we do?
Today, I need to love my husband even though he accidentally took the car keys to work with him, sending me scrambling to retrieve the spare key in order to take my son to school. Today, I need to love the two-year old who has been whining non-stop for four hours, and who’s problem I can neither discern nor solve.
Today, I need to love that artistic friend whose art always expresses what I struggle to say. She not only sees what I see, she isn’t afraid to say it, while I sit quietly.
Today, I need to look at this or that person who is doing ‘big things’ and rejoice with them as the pieces fall into place and dreams are realized.
Through grace I need to love.