I vividly remember what I ate for dinner on Christmas Eve 50 years ago.
Not the starter perhaps, but certainly the vegetable.
My mom served stewed potatoes (âpotato sloptersâ as she called them).
I remember the potatoes because I passionately read my new 25-cent comic book (“Justice League of America” ââVol. 1 # 96, featuring the JLA vs. Starbreaker the Cosmic Vampire) at the dinner table. the dining room and I splashed food all over it.
This damaged comic still has a place of honor in my old bedroom. And that serves as a metaphor for how extreme some people see themselves in relation to who is the reason for the season.
In 1971, I could have had a perfectionist meltdown and tossed the comic as dirty, worthless junk.
I admitted that I had disfigured the periodical, but nevertheless saw the lasting non-monetary value. It remained perfectly legible. It retains sentimental value. And its continued existence means that it can be passed on to future generations.
What does this have to do with self-image? Well, a lot of people feel especially unhelpful, helpless, and unloved this time of year.
Whether it’s because of family reputations, poverty, chronic illness, lousy divorce, drug addiction, or some other calamity, some people see themselves as unrecoverable – permanently stained and hopeless. They see their only alternatives as more self-pity or as a “George Bailey” suicide attempt.
Christians have an obligation to remind these people that God always used imperfect individuals to accomplish great tasks and that Jesus felt compassion for the poor, the afflicted, and the excluded. He dined with tax collectors and sinners. Instead of memorizing sad songs, those with low self-esteem should restore their dignity by memorizing John 3:16.
On the other hand, over the past five decades, I could have been lying to myself about my comics. I could try to bluff and intimidate a collector into accepting it as pristine, but my delusions wouldn’t change reality.
This is my way of approaching this indisputable truth: some people have an exaggerated view of their worth to God and to man. âHumilityâ and âreverenceâ are not in their lexicon. They see themselves as self-sufficient, empowered and accountable to any man or god.
If they run into Jesus among the snowmen and candy canes, they classify him as (a) a myth, (b) a good teacher but nothing else, or (c) “okay, maybe be the Son of God, but I have a lot of wild oats to sow before I have time to settle down and follow Him.
I can’t find the phrase âCruisin ‘for a bruisin’â in the Bible, but the sentiment suits such people.
Certainly, I pray for world peace this Christmas. I pray for the health and happiness of friends and family. But I also pray that those at the extremes of self-image learn a bit of moderation.
Neither arrogance nor desperation is in the best interest of mankind.
Life is an act of balance. I assume by faith that humans are made in the image of God. But imperfections, interdependence and responsibility all need to be taken into account.
Surprisingly, few of life’s problems can be solved with a “POW!” “,” BAM! “Or” ZAP! “
Ah, but by developing a realistic assessment of your potential and your obligations, you can move mountains.
Go say it on the mountain.