Let Us Be Joyful in Our Being Different!

Comparison steals our joy. When we compare, we feel less than and often inadequate. In these days before Christmas, many are caught being less than content with what they have and struggle with gift buying and measuring up. It is sad, really because we are all unique and wonderfully made, and the best gift we can ever give to another person is the gift of our self; our unique and wonderful self!

If you ask a group of people at my CrossFit Gym what one of life’s biggest struggles is, the overwhelming answer will often be being content and not comparing ourselves to others. One can lift more, one can move better, one can ‘clean’ a heavier weight, or finish a WOD faster. But, in the end, the best advice I ever received was from my very first CrossFit Coach when he said, “Every day at the box (CrossFit gym) is a contest, a contest of YOU against the better YOU yet to come. It is never about the person next to you. They have their own struggles and desires. Concentrate on you, James!” I have done so ever since and I am lighter, faster, stronger, and look younger (See! There I go already!)

Contentment is something that we can and need to learn, because we are God’s children and He made us the way we are for a reason. That is what Advent is all about: God so loved the world that He gave us His own son so that we might have life. Wow! Huh? SO that WE might live, God found us worthy enough to love us, just the way we are…brokenness and all. And remember that God designed each of us to be different and unique. Life would be so boring if we all looked alike, dressed alike, and had the same talents and skills!

I am with you in this. Whether it is someone’s physical attributes, or the material things they possess, or their success, or perceived success and happiness, (think of Robin Williams or Kate Spade?) we can either make ourselves feel better or worse about ourselves based on our evaluations and our comparisons without ever loving ourselves. It is so hard to overcome this habit. I know.

In the end, comparison is selfishness disguised. It has us looking at others and selfishly thinking about only ourselves, and not others. And that is not what Saint Miriam is about; never was.

I have found Saint Miriam to be unique in a beautiful way, too. With all the scandal that goes with being Catholic lately, we are a wonderful place, and are lovely in so many ways! We welcome everyone who comes, and give children a quality education, and outreach to those on the margins and bring warmth to those experiencing homelessness. We continue to better ourselves, and build new things, and expand our operations, and reduce our impact on God’s world, not to be more selfish, or ridicule others or heir church, but rather to love all the more! Even the changes I am proposing for winter 2020 to the Sanctuary are not to just spend money, but to bring us closer to who we are and to see and love one another more deeply.  We are joyful in being different!

In this holy season of giving, reflecting, and expecting, we need to pause and ask ourselves, are we truly living?

Let us rejoice in our strengths and in our weaknesses. Let us celebrate the community we have built and support her and pray for one another. Let us worry less about the number of presents under the tree, and all the ways we have love in our lives and within our heart. Then, and only then, will we truly be wealthy beyond measure.

Blessed Advent!

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