The day I was told that I wasn’t chosen for the job I was hoping for, I was… disappointed to say the least. Leah, being the amazing supporting wife she was spent the day trying to figure out which tack to stick with in order to help me feel better. One of the things she said that seemed absolutely ludicrous at the time was, “Does it help to think about how happy they’ve made someone else? Maybe the person they said ‘yes’ to really needed this job.” If I could have had the proper anatomy in place, my response probably would have been a bark accompanied by a fireball. Happy for them? They were the enemy! They were the reason I didn’t get the job!
A few days later, my temper had not only cooled, but it had begun to wrap inward on itself as I attempted to throw Pity Part 2013. Once again, Leah refused to be the dark storm cloud I desperately wanted and proceeded to be nothing less than the stunning sunshine I needed. We spoke at length about what it all means, and timidly, she brought up the notion of being happy for the person that got the job. This time, however, I didn’t recoil from the idea. Instead, the idea wormed its way into my head and found a place to take root. What I’m about to share with you is an idea that hasn’t left me alone, despite not even knowing exactly what it means.
What if we’re all the same? What if the separation that exists in our mind between “me” and “we” and “I ” and “us” isn’t as rock solid as we assume? I would love for this sentence to be in support of the previous questions, somehow proving that we are in fact all existing in community and that our individuality is all an illusion, but I’m not there yet. In fact, the thing that’s really baking my noodle right now is Jesus telling us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. While I recognize that in the obvious and literal sense we’re all just living our lives… There’s a significant part of me that really likes the idea of feeling joy for those who get selected for the jobs I don’t get. I don’t know. Jesus was all about dying to our “selves”. What if we were supposed to wake up to community?
What if “community” goes beyond being accepted by a group of people? What if true community is being so plugged in to that group that your internal base reaction is to celebrate their victories… even when they come at your expense? What if we were just as affected by someone’s lack of food as they were? What would the world look like if all of us broke out of our self-shaped prison cells and began to experience life together? I don’t know… But I think I want to find out.
Paul Allen is the editor of Hunting for God. After growing up in an Assemblies of God church, he attended Johnson Bible College for two years before dropping out. In the time since, he has more or less figured out the whole “adulthood” thing, gotten married, and holds a steady job by day and writes movie scripts by night. He currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife Leah and two cats, Ego and Karma. HfG on FB