I was doing great one Saturday morning. I had my morning devotion and meditated on the word of God. I was enjoying time with my family when I went online and saw how a friend of mine had an outpouring of love during a celebration, then I instantly felt sad.
I wondered why don’t I get people to celebrate and honour me? My question is this, how do I overcome instant feelings of sadness when I see my friend celebrating and enjoying life?
How can I get people around me to celebrate me, is it wrong to desire honour and celebration?
You are asking two very real and very human questions that affect most of us during our lives. The first question is how to feel happy rather than envious when good things happen to your friends. The second question is whether it is wrong to desire honor and celebration.
We have good news for you and bad news for you. The good news is that feeling envy when good things happen to others and feeling joy when bad things happen to them is perfectly natural. The bad news is that natural does not mean acceptable; God expects you to overcome this natural tendency and root out that part of your nature.
Of course, we need to be aware that people tend to conceal bad fortune that befalls them and advertise the good. Most Facebook pages, Instagram and other social media, provide evidence of people parading their vacations, children, and new toys. This is an equally destructive tendency and exacerbates this challenge.
Here is a very good rule of thumb. Anything that God forbids us to do is something that many of us humans will have a strong desire to do. Adultery is also perfectly natural but also perfectly prohibited. We are not cows who can contentedly graze on the grass. God built us in such a way that life is a constant challenge of overcoming many of our natural tendencies. In doing so, we feel the thrill of triumph.
The urge to feel envious of our friends’ success is so strong that in the Ten Commandments, #10 is, “Do not covet”. We already know that we can’t steal from our friends; #10 informs us to control our thoughts.
If you have listened to our Ten Commandments audio CD, you will know that commandments number 5 and 10 are linked. You will also know that they aren’t actually commandments but rather examples of principles of human connectivity. In short, the principle of these two commandments is accepting our boundaries and recognizing that what we have is ours and what other people have is theirs.
We damage ourselves terribly when we reject ourselves because we think that others have it better than we do. It is self-destructive to spend our time wishing we had other people’s lives. We must acknowledge that we owe special respect to our parents and special appreciation for what we have. Not doing so is a terrible display of ingratitude to God for what He has given us, with all its flaws and limitations. Then we can truly rejoice in the good fortune of others, because it is theirs and it would be as wrong to want what is theirs as it would be to steal their things and as foolish to spend time coveting what is theirs as it would be to want to have a mutual blood transfusion.
As for wanting honor, our obligation is to honor others. We should not try to make others celebrate us. At the same time, if we associate with good people as we should, they too will feel the obligation to honor others. However, we would advise you to replace the word ‘honor’ with appreciation. That is often privately given.
One of the most frequent expressions of public honor is reserved for those who give generously and charitably. There is nothing wrong with publicly lauding the charitable philanthropist. However, the reason this lauding is done publicly is to encourage others to follow in the same footsteps. While it is commendable when someone gives privately and inconspicuously, it is better that someone should give a large amount in order to get recognition than not to give at all. You might want to consider taking the necessary steps to increase your revenue so that you can make larger charitable gifts to organizations that will appropriately recognize you.
If you feel additional need for a public shout-out then we would recommend looking deep inside yourself and asking what you can do to build your self-respect. Knowing that you are doing the right thing and growing each day should fill you with a satisfaction that the biggest celebration cannot match.
Wishing you much joy in your life,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin