When Your Failure Makes Me Feel Better
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32
Many times, at work, I’ve brought in some unhealthy snack with no intention of eating it myself. I bring it for my coworkers in a genuine attempt to do something nice for them. Usually though, I say something like this, I don’t need to lose weight. I simply need to make all of you gain weight and then, by comparison, I’ll feel better about myself.
I’m joking – for the most part. There is a dark part of me though that, when failing, finds comfort in the failure of others. If I’m doing well with my exercise and eating, I find it easier to cheer on my friends. When I’m struggling though, I find perverse satisfaction when others are struggling more than me. When I’m failing, I should be pouring my energy into doing better myself, but frankly, it’s easier to simply compare myself to someone whom I deem to be worse off than me. Then, I have to do nothing and change nothing in order to feel better about myself.
Paul addressed this dreadful behavior in today’s passage. In it, he described those who insist on abandoning God to go their own way. In this condition, the solution – in their mind – isn’t to repent and change their life. It’s to encourage others to join them on their course of self-destruction. Misery and failure love company. If everyone around me is on the same path, how bad can it be, right?
It’s bad enough that we fail repeatedly. When we fail repeatedly and encourage others to do likewise, or when we find pleasure in the struggle of others, we worsen our condition. What we should do, when we’re struggling, is find others who’ve found success and learn from them. If we want to go somewhere, we should spend time with those who are going in the same direction.
So, if I’m struggling with drug use, overeating, or anger, it does me no good to compare myself others who are worse than me. There will always be those I can look down upon, but that doesn’t help me at all. What I must do, is seek others who’ve struggled and found success. Then, I should admit I need help and learn from them.