I’m So Happy for Your Success
All the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:34
Because it’s a nearly universal struggle, the topic of gluttony recurs often in one of the accountability/addiction recovery groups I attend. Not everyone has been addicted to chemicals, but most understand the struggle of food. The guys in the group have recently been attempting to lose weight and over the last several months, a couple of them have been successful . . . a little too successful. I’m happy for their accomplishments, but there’s a little part of me that’s irritated. Their success shines a spotlight on my failure.
Most of us can identify with this. We know where we struggle, and we want change for ourselves. When we fail repeatedly, we find comfort in those who’ve also failed repeatedly. Together, we commiserate, making ourselves feel better that we’re not alone. When however, the one with whom we usually sympathize actually finds transformation, we’re torn. Of course, we want our friends to do well, but not while we’re still struggling.
Change can be difficult to accept. In today’s passage, Jesus delivered two demon-possessed men, casting their tormentors into a herd of pigs who subsequently drowned themselves. It’s an odd story, and it ends, not with rejoicing over the transformation of the two well-known agitators, but rather, with Jesus being expelled from the region. We don’t want your kind here. We’d rather have our pigs back and the two demon-possessed guys the way they were. We don’t need your salvation!
The two delivered men were no doubt ecstatic, but those around them, did not share their joy. Their dramatic transformation was disturbing and those who observed it wanted no part of it. They just wanted things to stay the way they were. There’s comfort in the status quo, even if it’s miserable.
In my case, my proper response with my brothers should be inspiration. How did you do it? I want transformation too. It’s easier though, to simply be irritated. I’m so happy for your stupid success. Irritation costs me nothing. Choosing to actually change is hard. If we want success though, we must be honest about our own failures and petty annoyances. If we truly love each other, we should rejoice in our brother’s achievement and we should be inspired to do whatever it takes to emulate it.