Have you ever found yourself sharing an experience or a problem in a conversation with another person, and her response is this: “That’s why I’m so glad that I don’t (fill in the blank with whatever issue you have that she doesn’t share)? Have you ever found yourself responding in this way to a friend? You might be glad that you don’t have kids in diapers anymore, or only have girl children, or only have boy children, or have no siblings, or live in a nicer climate, or started to exercise, or became a vegetarian, or only have friends who are Christians.
I’ve done it.
Often, we don’t even realize what we’re saying – we’re so excited about talking about ourselves in a conversation that we don’t see that we’ve just alienated a person right at the point where they need understanding most, when they are sharing feelings and hurts. But what is the harm, really? We’re just sharing, right? She is worried that her daughter is still in diapers at age four – so what? Mine have been out for years, Hallelujah, OMG, I am so glad that I don’t have to change diapers anymore. The mess! The cost! The stinkiness!
This type of conversation always sat wrong with me. I can complain, people. Oh, how I can complain. So I have heard this a lot. I agree that while maybe this line may be a person’s passive-aggressive way of getting me to shut up about whatever I harp about, I have also heard it when sharing something that hurts me deeply, something that keeps me up at night, troubles that seem to hang on. And I’ve felt bad and misunderstood – like the person wasn’t interested in relating to me. I felt wrong, somehow. Rejected. The words “Your troubles make me happy that I’m not you” – which is what is being said – they sting.
This cheering ourselves on as a response to another person’s sorrow has the direct result of making a person feel less about herself, and it serves to place us above them. It’s our pride talking, and it alienates others. We all have pride. Just as the Pharisee prayed “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…” (Luke 18:11, NKJV), our pride surfaces when we see ourselves as somehow better than others when we tell ourselves and others that we don’t share their problems.
Because we do share their problems. We all have troubles. Furthermore, we all sin. Every single one of us. We are all made in God’s image, and fall short of his ideal. We are not better than one another. We all need Jesus as an example to live on this earth and to absolve us of our sins. None of is different in this regard. When we understand that, we become more aware of how we might be alienating those around us with our pride.
Jesus said, “…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 14). When we are prideful of what we have instead of humbled about it before God, we effectively cut ourselves off from God, and others as well.
Can we try harder to love each other and not alienate each other with our pride? We can. Through God’s goodness and Jesus’ sacrifice, we all have an opportunity to change.
“Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3 (NLT)