When we have a strong desire to be appreciated and recognized but feel we are not, some of us will resort to the strangest schemes to solve our problem. A bulletin for priests recounts two such schemes, selected from a book of essays the writer had read many years before.
A woman in China who had an
exquisite bed wanted to boast about it to the
whole world. Since it was in her bedroom, showing it off to others
would be difficult. She needed to find a way to brag about her bed that
would seem reasonable. She decided to spread the rumor in the
neighborhood that she was sick. This would bring many to her house and
bedroom where they would see the bed and envy her. At the same time
there was another woman who had a beautiful underskirt and was
searching for a way to brag about it.
again, since it
was an underskirt she needed to find a way to brag about it without
seeming to do so. She had heard
about the woman who was sick and decided to visit her, and while there
find a way to brag about her underskirt. Two women with the same hidden
agenda are about to meet, one wanting to brag about her bed, the other
wanting to brag about her underskirt.
The woman with the underskirt, during the visit, did not ask about the problem the
sick woman was having; she was intent only in showing off her underskirt
while she was sitting in the chair by the bed. She looked to see if the
woman in the bed was looking at her underskirt. The woman in the bed
noticed that the woman didn't show any interest in why she was in bed,
and so concluded that she was there to show off her underskirt. The woman
with the underskirt realized she hadn't asked the woman in bed
the reason for her being in bed, and started showing some interest. The
woman in the bed then told the woman with the underskirt that they both had the same
disease: the braggart's disease.
This desire to be appreciated, says the writer, comes from our trying to free ourselves from the
feeling of inferiority, and can bring about many personality problems. When this feeling of
inferiority takes over, we become interested in externals, and vanity
grows, which makes for an unhealthy inner life. Instead of living
according to our philosophy of life and convictions we are overly
concerned about what others may think about us, which makes it difficult for us to live an authentic life.
look at ourselves with the eyes of faith, however, we notice that we
have little to
boast about, and are able to see more clearly our weaknesses. Even if
we should find that there are things we can be proud of, looking at them
carefully we notice that they have not been all our doing, having to
acknowledge that we have received help from others, from family, from
our environment, from God. With these thoughts we are humbled and begin
to see our self more honestly.
greatest among you will be he one who serves the rest. Whoever exalts
himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted" (Matt.23:11).