When we hear the word inflation, most of us begin to think about money, price increases, supply and demand, etc. We understand that inflation affects much of how and when we do business or make purchases. It’s a powerful little word that controls the economy on a global scale. The word has been rolling around in my spirit the last couple of days, so I decided to do a little research. The word was first recorded in American English in 1838. It was used to explain the increase in prices due to the increase of money into the monetary system. However, the Latin origins of the word have actually been in use since the mid-14th century. It was used to describe “swelling caused by gathering of ‘wind’ in the body; flatulence;” figuratively, “outbursts of pride,” “a puffing up“.

Having read the definitions I began to ponder over why this word would be set so firmly in my mind the past few days. I have come to the conclusion that I have been guilty of creating inflation within my relationships. I have created either an over inflated opinion of those around me or of myself. I can think back over my life and make a list of the people who have most affected my life; both good and bad. Those whom I looked up to, held great respect for and who I gave authority to speak into my life, have often also brought the greatest disappointment. I have long wondered why that is the case. I’ve heard many explanations over the years for why those closest to us also bring the deepest pain. I minored in Psychology in college and  have studied the psychological theories of interpersonal relationships. I have read numerous books over the years about people and relationships, both from authors with a Christian world view and those without. In the last 24 hours i have had an epiphany. It may not be a revelation to you, but for me this will be life changing.

I think most of us crave someone to look up to. Without realizing it, we look for someone to model after, to act like, talk like, think like and be like. We look up to those who are successful, educated, and seem to have it all together. Watching others overcome adversity gives us hope that one day we too can overcome. In my own life I have been guilty of placing those that I look up to on a pedestal, somehow thinking that they should be placed higher than those around them. It’s an involuntary action that happens as a result of my respect for them. I have been taught that leaders are to be held at a higher standard, and naturally I expect more from those I look up too, so up on the pedestal they go. The only problem with my pedestal placement is that it eventually topples. The person I placed up there usually falls off at some point. They do something that I judge as not living up to the standard I placed on them, or not the way I think they should behave, and I become disappointed. The reality is that they never asked to be placed on the pedestal. They never asked to have my expectations of how they should function in society imposed upon them. Falling off the pedestal and disappointing me was my fault. Yes, they may have stumbled on their journey, but my inflated opinion of them is the root of my disappointment, not that they didn’t live up to my standard.

I have also been guilty of maintaining an inflated opinion of myself. I am naturally a very competitive, task oriented person. I start each day with a to do list a mile long and seldom see the end of it before the day ends. I can easily become disappointed in myself. In my mind, I should have been more focused and able to get done what needed to get done. In my pursuit of excellence I can be easily frustrated, impatient and eventually angry with myself if I do not hit the target. I hold myself to a very high standard, and very seldom every live up to the inflated expectations I have placed on myself. It’s a continuous cycle that keeps me flustered, and I do it to myself! My inflated opinion causes me to think I shouldn’t struggle with envy, I shouldn’t be tempted to speak ill of people, I shouldn’t get caught up in emotionalism, I shouldn’t get angry with my husband and kids, I shouldn’t struggle with finding time daily to spend time with God, I shouldn’t think negatively or doubt, and on and on I could go. My inflation causes great disappointment because I have set impossible goals and standards that I can not live up to.

1 Corinthians 13 has come to be known as “the love chapter”. I have heard countless sermons referencing this chapter. I have heard it taught most often in reference to our interpersonal relationships, but I think there is more to it. in verses 4-6 there is a description of how love should behave…

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Most of the teachings I have heard focus on this passage as the basis for building relationship and I believe strongly that this should be the model. My concern though, is that we may have a skewed ability to love others according to this passage if we have an inability to love ourselves. Jesus taught that we should “love our neighbor as yourself”. Having an inflated opinion of your neighbor or yourself is the opposite of love. If my love for others is rooted in the love I have for myself, then I have to begin to change the opinion I have of myself. I can not begin to legitimately love others if I do not love myself. Loving me starts with removing the unrealistic expectations and seeing myself through the mind of Christ. His Word is full of His opinion of me, my task is to discover it, believe it, accept it and then live it. I honestly believe that when I learn to love myself better I will naturally begin to love other people more. Through that love I will not longer see them through the dark glass of my inflated opinion. When I love them from my overflow I will no longer trip over those who have fallen off my ill placed pedestals, but rather be there to catch them when they stumble. Walking side by side, perhaps they will catch me as well.

Remember that definition for inflation?  It is “swelling caused by gathering of ‘wind’ in the body; flatulence;” figuratively, “outbursts of pride,” “a puffing up. I encourage you today to not let the swelling of wind within you cause you to become puffed up with an over inflated opinion of yourself or those around you. Quite frankly… it stinks when we do.


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