Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bouts with Bedhead Help Teach Valuable Life Lesson

For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from what can only be described as industrial strength bedhead.

Five minutes of slumber can give my hair more swirls, ridges, and flat points than you’re likely to find in half-finished Jello after a potluck.

Mostly though, my bedhead causes every strand of my mane to protrude like the quills of a porcupine.

Through the years, if people have caught glimpses of me in the mornings before I’ve had the chance to put a ball cap on, laughter is the sure result.

I used to wonder why folks laughed. After all, I reasoned, doesn’t everybody’s hair look this bad when they wake up?

Sure, I’d seen numerous TV shows and movies in which the hair of characters awakened from deep sleep looked like they just left a barber or hairdresser. But, I knew, these people really had just left barbers and hairdressers. Hollywood fantasy was one thing, I thought, but bedhead was the common lot of the human race.

Gradually though, I came to realize that my bedhead was different. It really is industrial strength.

I’ve always been competitive. Some practitioners of psychoanalysis would no doubt say that part of this stems from feelings of inferiority left over from my childhood. They’d say that I have a need to excel at things to compensate for areas in which I might feel wanting. All of that may be true. But I can tell you that as silly as it sounds, I have entertained fleeting feelings of resentment that some people can wake up in the mornings looking as though they’ve just stepped from the shower, while I look like someone who has never seen a shower.

Now, don’t make a big deal out of my confessional. Although I’ve never seen an episode of Seinfeld, I’m culturally-aware enough to know that I must assure people reading this that I don’t spend time obsessing on this subject.

But I bring it up because comparing ourselves to others is a trap.

Jesus once told a parable about a wealthy man who took a trip and entrusted some of his property to three different servants he left behind. To the first, he gave five “talents” (a term used for money, but which stands for all the assets with which you and I can be blessed in life); to the second, three; and to third, one.

Jesus said that when the wealthy man came back from his trip, he was pleased that the first two servants had doubled the money with which they’d been entrusted. But he was enraged to find that the third guy had, out of fear, simply buried his one talent and handed it back to the master. (Matthew 25:14-30)

The point is that you and I have no control over how many talents God gives to us or how extensive our talents may be. My job isn’t to compare myself to others or to nurture resentment because somebody else is more talented than I am.

My talents are God’s gifts to me. But as the old saw so aptly puts it, what I do with my talents is my gift back to God.

Bedhead always goes away when I shower. Chances are that lots of the things that give us pangs of inferiority feelings can also be overcome.

We owe it to God, the world, and ourselves to make sober judgments about our personal assets (Romans 12:3) and then dedicate ourselves to making good on God’s investment in us.

Fortunately, the God Who, through Jesus, accepts us we are is also committed to helping us become our best selves. (Ephesians 2:8-10) It’s simply a matter of getting over ourselves and allowing Him to help us.

No comments: