We woke up to screaming. All week, we've been listening to our daughters work out their conflicts. Lately, they've been fighting over everything: Whose turn? Whose portion? Whose toy?
In church this morning, I asked another mother how she handles sibling fighting. Her answer surprised me.
She said to teach my children that they aren't special.
Is this mother American? Has she been in a coma? Aren't I supposed to be training my children to believe in their absolute specialness? Aren't I supposed to be telling my little girls how wonderful, how amazing, how special, special, special they are? Of course they deserve that turn, that portion, that toy. I've trained them to expect nothing less.
I think I've been raising narcissists. Something's gotta change.
That mom told me to ask one sister if her other sister were any less special than she.
So I did. Without that sense of "I'm uniquely special," it was hard to justify who deserved that turn, that portion, that toy.
Who is more special? Me or you?
As I'm worshiping God in church this morning, I think about what causes so much distress in my own heart. So many of my own internal and external conflicts arise out of a sense of entitlement. I'm so special, God, so don't I deserve this thing? I'm so special, God, aren't you going to do this wonderful thing in my life? It's my turn, God. It's time for my portion.
The problem isn't that I'm not special. I am. The problem is that you are too--just as much--and I don't see it. If I did, I wouldn't fight for my personal story, my turn, my portion, and my toy. I'd see you as equally deserving of every opportunity and every bit of joy.
It was a sobering thought for someone like me--a recovering narcissist of sorts. I looked around the sanctuary at hundreds of folks on their own spiritual journey. Might I give up my turn, my portion, and my toy for them? Might I reengage with people, recognizing a profound sense of how special they are?
Selfishness might stem from an exaggerated sense of my own specialness.
Are others special enough (as special as I am?) that I might defer to them, sacrifice for them, and lose my place in line? Living with flair means admitting (though it's painful!) that I am not more special. That's one way I can love others better, even when they get the biggest portion and the best toy.