I am not better than you are. This week, I confess, I felt better than a lot of people. That’s only because underneath I actually felt worse than all of you, worse than a lot of other people. Why do I feel a need to be better than everyone else? Don’t I know that WE are all good, already? Don’t I know that it’s ALL good? Don’t I know that the Light and Breath of God are stamped on every single human who has ever lived and ever will live? And that simply because we breathe we are good? We are Loved fully because we inhale and exhale. Jihadi John has the same Light and Breath of God that I do, somewhere in his being. Hitler had it, too. And yes, so does Donald Trump. I am not better than any single person, ever.
Why should I care what Assad the man is doing in Syria? Why spend a moment of the time I could be praying for and loving the refugees he’s displaced spewing hatred at the man himself? Only if I think I am in a position of better-ness and judgement would I do that. If I believe he is EXCEPTIONALLY AND DEEPLY wounded, instead of wicked, then I can connect to a part of his heart, I can find me in him, and I can pray for him as well as for the people he is massacring. I can seek reconciliation with his regime if I believe I am no better than that murderous man. Sympathy might even start to bubble up, then maybe I can Love him. That must be hard to hear; it’s hard to say. But I KNOW that God makes ALL THINGS RIGHT. I believe with all of me that all things work for the Good. Every day of my life “nothing is wasted” has proven itself True.
So I am not better than Bashar Assad or Donald Trump or Hitler or members of Isis, I believe that. Because the Breath and Light that exists in me also flowed/flows through them. And I am wounded, too. Also, let me stress this point again (for my sake, not yours), I am not better than any single person. Ever. My cooking, decorating, make-up application, education (or lack thereof), number of children, clothing size, swim times, numbers of years married, thickness and quality of hair, sobriety, obedient animals, business savvy, skin color, church/religious affiliations, net worth, garden output, childrens’ preschools (or lack thereof), and eyelash length DO NOT MAKE ME BETTER THAN YOU. Or worse. If comparison is the thief of Joy, then I’m comparison’s money man. I fund comparison like it’s my job, so it can steal everything my Joy has to offer.
What does it practically look like? Running around on the same playing field as everyone else? It means my kids can actually teach me probably close to as much as I teach them. If I am not better than they are, and they are less defended and have a better sense of their True Selves, then they are closer to their Truths in a lot of ways. Closer to Truth in general. If I quieted down and remembered their Light and their Breath, I’d get a real soul/ass-kicking. It means I am not better than my husband! It means I am not better than friends, community, and family. It means I can rest and stop proving, stop protecting.
It looks like Matthew 20: 1-15, the parable of the laborers; and it looks like the thief on the cross. How frustrating that Hitler and Mother Teresa get the same shot at the Kingdom!?!!! No matter when you join the race, or the harvest as is the case in the parable, you’re “in.” God will wait a lifetime for one lost soul, one lost lamb. It’s what God does, it’s the work of that Thor-ish Love Sledgehammer. Everyone will reach wholeness, health, unity. For some, like Mama T, it happened earlier in life, and those individuals get to spend many years humbly and quietly building the Kingdom now. For others, like the thief who died next to Jesus, it happens on a deathbed at the very end of life. And I have a feeling that even after we die, even if we miss all the signs and signals while alive here on Earth, God might give us another chance to embrace Him/Her before shit gets real. Like, what if after someone dies, someone like Hitler, who may have held on a little to tightly for a little too long, God shows up somewhere in-between here and “Heaven” and says: Alright, here I am, you see me, you know all the Truths, make your choice. Do you want Me, or not? I want you! I bet there are SO few people in hell, whatever hell is. Maybe it’s just satan there? Off the topic. But kind of not.
So why strive down here?! It doesn’t matter how much time one “wastes” here on this version of Earth because it’s all good, and nothing is wasted! Why do I waste time fearing who takes the White House or Syria?! I couldn’t do a better job! I don’t need to do a better job! I need to do MY job, the job I was assigned by my Creator. I need to humbly pray for and Love EVERY SINGLE HUMAN. Jihadi John needs to know that he is good enough, and that he is Loved, and that he doesn’t need to be better than anyone else. So I will pray for that. Oh it’s so frustrating!?! It’s also perfect. How unjust it seems, and yet, I couldn’t think of anything more just.
Of course there are consequences to actions, I cry almost daily thinking about the atrocities human spirits have to carry around..… Addiction was a consequence of my pride & unwillingness to trust myself and God. But recovery has been the single most influential factor in my life, besides my faith. There is an apology here, too. Because if you know me (and honestly, even if you don’t) I have at some point thought a negative thought about you, fueled by my comparison with you, and motivated by my belief that I am better than you are. Forgive me. I now know I am not. It’s just that every once in a while I start to feel bad, and so I want others to feel bad (Isis, Hitler, Assad, Trump, every human ever). Pray for me.
So for the past few days, as I live my life & as I drive down Colfax Ave., every time a questionable character pops into my peripheral vision I say out loud, “I am not better than you are.” When I read about someone doing something that makes me scared and angry I say, “I am not better than you are.” When a child makes a human mistake, or speaks a hard Truth to me (“Mama, you are supposed to breathe and pray before you yell at us!” Lucy reminded me the other day), I remember “I am not better than you are.” And when David doesn’t complete a to-do on the list, I whisper “I am not better than you are.” Then he gets kindly and respectfully reminded. How awesome, freeing, gracious, just, and loving that I don’t have to be better than you!? Because trying to be better just makes me feel a whole lot worse.