The story I was reading with my kids led to a conversation about how some people make fun of others in order to make themselves feel better. We talked about the fact that the reason this happens is often because the person making fun of the other either doesn’t feel good about him or herself or feels like they need to prove themselves in some way.
It’s a pretty familiar scenario with kids, but we all know that it plays out among grown-ups as well. Whenever I see this sort of behavior happening, it makes me think about the incredible pressure that most of us feel on a daily basis to live up to some sort of unrealistic ideal, as well as how focused on “me” we have become.
More people than we may realize are cracking under this pressure, but without a healthy way to acknowledge it. And to some extent, since we’ve also put so much emphasis on success and image as a society, we have lost our sense of how we are all connected and have made each other into a sort of commodity instead: something whose value is related to how much it gets you in return.
If our worth is based on how good we are, how much we do, or how perfect our lives look on the exterior, then it is no wonder that we end up judging, criticizing, and demeaning others or putting others down in order to make ourselves feel better. But this doesn’t have to be our reality, and it doesn’t have to be the norm.
There’s another truth we can live by, and that’s the fact that we are beloved, redeemed, and forgiven by God. This is where our worth comes from. We don’t have to have it all together; we don’t have to have all the answers. We belong to God, and God will give us what we need for today.
It’s so simple and yet it bears repeating: God is crazy about you. You don’t have to prove anything or do anything to earn it. Of course, God is also crazy about the person you can’t stand. But that’s the message of Jesus in a nutshell: Love came down- to set us all free from our entrapments and baggage and show us just how much we are loved.
This love is meant to set us free. We don’t have to spend so much time worrying about how we measure up or securing our worth. Knowing who we are in Christ, we can turn outwards to show our neighbors this same abiding, enduring love.
I can’t say for sure, but I have a hunch that doing so would drastically change how we interact with one another, for the better. Yet it strikes me that perhaps the person we need to extend the fullness of God’s love to most is ourselves. After all, we can’t give what we don’t have.
So, even during this time, when we need to practice social-distancing, let’s not be stingy in sharing this love with others, or from allowing it to fully enter our own lives. Let’s be radical in the hospitality, grace, and forgiveness that we extend to others. In doing so, I believe we will prove to all those who may doubt that a love like this truly can change the world.