We all have vices. There’s no such thing as having vices that are “better” than another person’s. And simply recognizing that you have them doesn’t make you better than someone else.
Uh Oh! That Smell Isn’t You Is It?
What’s that smell?
It can’t be you. After all, you practice good hygiene. You brush a lot of your teeth, take a shower nearly every morning. Scrub your armpits (remember?). Wash your hair. Take the time to get behind your ears. Clean socks. Clean clothes. Some deodorant and perfume (or cologne or body spray).
It can’t be you. It has to be the person next to you.
But the person next to you just gave you a look. And he’s moving away from you. To another zip code.
Okay… so you smell.
Nonetheless, as that other person moves away, that really terrible smell seems to be going with him.
Fine. You can admit you smell —
— But you don’t smell as bad as that other person.
Your Vices Aren’t As Bad As That Other Person’s
We do this a lot don’t we? Sure, we may recognize our own vices – may even be proud of having done so (be very careful with that) – but we tend to spend a lot more time justifying them than we do combatting them.
And, like “that smell”, we just love to think that our own vices aren’t anywhere near as bad as someone else’s.
Sorry. They are.
We all have vices. Many of them. You have some you aren’t even aware of. A vice is a vice. There’s no such thing as having vices that are “better” than another person’s. And simply recognizing that you have them doesn’t make it “okay”.
It’s important to understand this for two reasons. 1) You’re no better than anyone else. 2) Any other given person needs as much Compassion, Love and Patience as you are so eager to give yourself.
Where Do You Point The Finger Of Vice?
When I was in college I worked with a staff member who always smelled. I wasn’t the only one who noticed it – my coworkers and other students did too. We would talk about it here and there, curious if maybe she didn’t shower or use deodorant.
Over time, it got talked about so much that one day we were all beckoned into the conference room. She told us that she had a condition that caused the smell, and that it was very difficult to control. We all felt terrible for how insensitive we had been, mortified that it had gotten back to her.
That same day, I came back to my dorm room, took my shoes off and plopped down on the futon in front of the TV.
My roommate soon came in, looked at me, looked at my shoes, and curled his lip.
“If you’re going to take your shoes off, please spray something. Your feet smell terrible!”
Remember That God Loves Everyone Equally
Do you have kids? Specifically two or more? Which one do you love most?
If you have neither kids nor pets… uh… well… which CSI is your favorite?
That’s right – none of them. (I think we can agree, they’re no Miami Vice)
You don’t love any of your kids any more than you love any of the others. Same goes with the pets. Sure, you may love them all in unique ways – your relationship with one is going to be different from another, so how you show that love will also be different – but you have infinite amounts of love to give, and you give it freely and unconditionally. Even when one of them poops on the floor (I’m talking about the dog… not Sally), you don’t love any less.
In the same way, God’s Love for each of us is unique, unconditional and – above all – equal. He doesn’t Love you more than He loves a murderer. He doesn’t Love a tyrant dictator less than He Loves you. That is, essentially, what is meant by “unconditional”.
That’s also why your perceived level or amount of vice is absolutely inconsequential.
While this is certainly a difficult idea to grapple with from time to time, it’s something to remind yourself every day. Drop the hate. Drop the notion that God holds you in higher favor. And try to Love as He Loves.
Meanwhile, take solace in the notion that if you poop on the floor, God will not Love you any less.
It’s a safe bet, though, that the Best Buy employees in the CSI aisle might.
Hey, they’ve got their vices too. Let them deal with it.
When have you tried to justify yourself by pointing to someone else’s flaws or vices? What might you have done better?
Portions of this article were originally published in God Jots: 10 Important Things To Consider Each Day.