Small digs. Backhanded compliments. Subtle moments of deprecation. Downright rude comments.
Sometimes these are done in fun between friends, and other times they are to mask our lack of self-confidence or self-esteem. But it is a truth of our society, that by putting others down, we make ourselves feel better. What if we changed that and recognized the importance of making ourselves feel better by making others feel better about themselves?
I have been having this similar conversation with a variety of people over the past few weeks; it seems to be something that resonates for people, no matter what age or stage of life they find themselves.
The biblical story is full of this theme: the story of Jesus Christ is one of making oneself feel better by making others feel better. He is one who “has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1. 51b-53) Jesus came to show the people of the world a new and different way to live.
He challenged the powers and principalities of his day, and he attempted to level the playing field for all people. He wanted “the first to be last and the last to be first.” (Matt 19.30) And yet, our society is still one that is based on a few holding much power. We not only allow it, but also celebrate it.
Can we be part of a world and a society that changes that; can we help to build the reign of God in this world, so that we, and all of the beloved people of God can live in the world that was described by Jesus? We remember that when humans were created, it was in the image of God-self and it was good!
Try it today: lift someone else up! See if it doesn’t make you feel better!
Thanks be to God for this ironic gift of life – that we are not just dependent on our own emotions, but of and on those with whom we interact. Make a difference in someone’s life – it might just be yours!
– Rev. Graham Brownmiller, Clearwater United Church