Sunday, March 17, 2013

Love Is Not Boastful... Or Braggy!

"It's not a game unless you play" is something my husband says to my kids when they get frustrated at losing a game they were pulled into before they fully agreed to participate. Typically this "game" consists of racing (up the stairs, down the sidewalk, etc.) or accomplishing a specific task (like getting into their PJs, brushing their teeth, etc.) to see who is the fastest... the best.

This game typically begins with one child announcing the competition and the other child automatically, almost instinctively following along. It ends, of course, with the opponent's predictable "loss" and resentment with the fact that they didn't really even want to race in the first place! They are left feeling depleted and defeated. They are then reminded that it was their choice to play and to go true!

Sometimes the behavior of children and adults isn't much different. In fact, I have been pulled into a game I have not really wanted to play. What is this game? It's the game called "Bragging & Boasting"... where one person, the "bragging-boaster" initiates the game by boasting of a recent accomplishment (paying off their house, getting a promotion, receiving an honor), a recent purchase or gift (luxury purse, designer jeans, expensive shoes), or "amazing" experience (trip to Disney, exclusive resort, fancy hotel) in order to feel superior and elicit a feeling of admiration or jealousy from their opponent. These brags and boasts are flung out into conversation like a fisherman casting a line into the deep waters of their opponents fears & insecurities... hoping for a bite.

The next play consists of the opposing player either attempting to forfeit with a forced smile "I'm so happy for you" or making a counter play ("My son made the Honor Roll again!","I'm in a size 2 now!", or "We really enjoyed our last family trip to Paris!") to either tie or better yet, one up the boasting-bragger to hopefully end the game, for this round anyway!

Even on those rare occasions the opposing player is able to out score the boasting-bragger the feeling of defeat still stings strong. This is when the friendship begins to unravel... and trust begins to fade. True friends don't find joy in being better or having more... but by spreading joy and lifting up those they care about!

So why do I play? Honestly, I don't know sometimes! I really do try not to get sucked right into the competition, but sometimes I just react with my ego before my mind knows what just happened! Who cares if she is thinner, richer, and leads a "better" life, right? But I guess a part if me (hopefully a part that is shrinking more and more every day) still feels like somehow that stuff actually matters!

Let me be clear... sharing wonderful news or recent accomplishments isn't necessarily always boasting or bragging! I love celebrating good news with friends! It is all about the intension behind it and with full consideration of the feelings of who you are sharing with. Sharing good news should be about sharing joy... not part of a repeated attempt to assert "superiority" over another.

I am grateful that the majority of people in my life do not play this game... the majority of the players being left behind in adolescence! ;) I am grateful for all my dear beloved friends that would never wish me ill will and always want the best for me... who would never keep score let alone play games! Yet, I am also aware that I am responsible for my part in this game, for playing along (even as I hate it) and for allowing anyone's bragging or boasting to affect how I feel about my life and myself!

I've come to realize this game is often initiated by those who have an "identity crisis". Not understanding their True Source of self-worth they try and get it through extrnal things. Because they feel deep down they are less... they boast and brag to convince others, and even themselves, that they are more. It's as if they were raised or have come to believe that their value, worth, and lovability is somehow tied into external things... that they are more valuable, likable, and lovable if they have or do more. But the truth is none of us are any more valuable, nor any less than another... and nothing we can buy, no place we go, no fitness goal we achieve will bring us that feeling of value and lovability we crave.

I've often asked myself and have been asked by others why I would remain friends with someone who played this divisive game. All I can say is that it is because of love. My soul feels called to friendship, not because of my friend's behavior but her heart. Inside this competitive spirit is someone who is forgetting their lovability and that this stuff doesn't mean anything. No one is perfect, especially not me... for after all I was a losing player too!

This relationship is teaching me something I could never been taught without her! She is essential to my walk with Christ and to my Salvation in letting go of the old and reuniting with the Spirit. I am learning how to lovingly decline the game... to resist the urge to play. To learn how to love even during unlovable moments. To learn it isn't about the sinful nature of the bragging-boaster, but the lovelessness and fear in my heart each time I engage in the game.

Only Love and the relationships that share love have true meaning... none of these "treasures" on Earth will ever give us the meaning and value we crave. Until we understand that the bragging/boasting game is actually sabotaging our ability to recognize our True Worth we will never be able to claims it as our rightful inheritance as a child of God. We are beyond value... Priceless to our Creator! So loved are we he comes to us through the Holy Spirit if we but ask!

So the next time I am presented with a request to play this fruitless game I will remember I do have a choice and I will seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and choose love... the only winning choice there is.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post, Ann!!!! Such true words - I am so glad you speak from the heart - you help me to grow every single day!!! :-)