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Recently, I attended a homeschool conference. Attendance was required for those wishing to teach a writing class this upcoming academic year. Honestly, I did not want to teach the class because of the three-day, 18-hour-requirement. However, nobody had stepped up for the position in our particular community, and the director personally called and offered her chauffeuring services if I were to attend. Okay, then. I signed up. Actually, she signed me up and sent me the email confirmation.

The conference was as unpleasant as I had expected.  The worst part of it was suffering through some serious sermonizing on how public education was the devil’s realm. The participating crowd got assigned the pronoun, “we,” and the parents who send kids to public school got the designation, “they.” The speaker pointed out, not without charisma, the faith and victory of those who had made a decision not to send their children to be educated by “the world.” The audience, in turn, applauded. Everyone was having a very feel-good session in there.

All, except me. I felt like gagging (purging, of course, is our body’s natural way of getting rid of stuff that is no good).  I left the pews and went out to the parking lot for a breath of fresh air, cried my eyeballs out (yes, I am the sensitive type), made a decision to be polite to these strangers, and went back in to fulfill my teaching requirement. It was not so painful after my good cry, as I also decided to tune the whole thing out and think on pleasant things instead.

I would have been so supportive if the speaker had spoken only of the loveliness of homeschooling. Why was her good thing “good” only if the alternative was “bad”? Why couldn’t she just have celebrated her decision to homeschool without putting others down?

I was taught at an early age to not focus on the speck on someone’s eye while having a plank in my own eye, so I have been wondering the past few days whether I do that thing of deciding that I am superior by deciding someone else is inferior.  I must shamefully admit that I compare often, and it makes me feel awfully good to compare. I get a lot of worth out of mentally one-upping others.

I am who you are not.

Is that how I define myself? Do I give others way too much power by allowing the meaning of my selfhood be based on the meaninglessness of others? Do I feel like a nobody if someone happens to be better at something than me?  Am I actually powerless when I cannot feel joy all by myself? It is SELF-destructive to need to be better (by comparing?)?

The things we notice… Some people are in a hurry. Some people eat organic food. Some people eat casseroles made with canned cream of mushroom soup.  Some people homeschool. Some people talk loudly. Some people have nine fingers. Some people have a lot of money. Some people do drugs. All of these things can be facts. But I really do not need to sit around being so fearful and threatened that I start forming comparisons in my head to affirm my “me.”

Wrap up: I marvel at God when Moses asked Him for a name, and God answered, “I am who I am.” That, to me, is someone who knows and loves Himself. I think I am going to copy God. I am going to work on going from I am who you are not, to I am who I am. I think in the process, I will also gain a lot of intimate relationships that are completely void of comparing and judging, and I am going to restore a strong sense of myself. As for the people who want to diss others… well. Too bad for them. I can’t change them. But I sure can change me into more me by becoming me, not becoming less them!