No. 494
One of the nuances we often encounter in this life is something we call kidding. The word kidding is slang and means, 'To make fun of; to tease. To deceive or try to deceive someone; fool." We often hear statements or questions such as "Are you kidding me," "I'm just kidding," "No kidding," and "You are just kidding yourself." Another expression that has a similar connotation is "He is just whistling past the graveyard." Here is a practical example of what I am saying. Once in the while someone will have the words "Not dead but sleeping" inscribed on the tombstone of a loved one. Believe me, this person is dead and they are not sleeping. In other words, the person who had this inscription placed on a tombstone is only kidding himself or whistling past the graveyard.
This is just my personal opinion, but I believe good-natured kidding can play a positive role in our society. When I am playing golf with my friends, we kid each other all the time. It's the only way some of us can keep from losing our religion. In the case of good-natured kidding, if it's intended to foster positive relationships and make people feel comfortable around each other, it can be a very good thing. On the other hand, if we kid someone to the point of ridicule and become painful, it crosses the line and becomes a destructive trait and I would be very much opposed to that. Some people can take kidding and some can't, and all of us need to learn to be sensitive to the needs of those around us. That is, if we wish to be a happy, well-adjusted person.
From my perspective, it's fine to kid someone if we know they can take kidding and it serves to build a good relationship, but the essence of what I want to share with you here that may be worth thinking about is to answer the question, "Are you kidding yourself?" When we kid someone else, there are guidelines we should follow, but when we kid ourselves, that's an entirely different matter. Another one of those practical examples occurred several times when Viola and I were first married. While she always denied it, quite often I had the feeling that she would get jealous of some pretty lady who I was especially friendly to, give a hug or say a flattering word.
Back then, and believe me things have changed, when she later confronted me, I would have a little silly grin come over my face. On a number of occasions she has said to me, "I'm going to slap that silly grin off your face." Now, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I figured out a long time ago that it was easier to change my facial expression than to suffer the embarrassment and pain of a good slapping. In other words, if I thought I could win that one, I was only kidding myself. I might add that I have matured to the point that I take great pains not to make her jealous about anything, because we are not only a team but we would never do anything intentional to hurt each other. If you are married and donĂ¢t have that kind of relationship with your spouse, you are missing one of the true joys of this life.
What I have just shared is only one small example of how we can kid ourselves. There are countless other examples, but one in our society that affects many people in a negative way, and sadly these people are only kidding themselves, are those people who believe they are superior, especially intellectually; to the point they believe they are better than most of the people around them. I'm here to tell you that some people may be smarter, some may be richer, some may be shapely, beautiful or better looking, some may be descendants of the bluebloods of a country, a state or a community, but no person as a human being is any better than another. When we learn that our time on earth is brief and that we can't take our superior knowledge with us, we should strive to use that time wisely.
I remember a passage in the Bible where Jesus talks about the sin of partiality. He said, "Do not say to the rich man, you come and take this good seat and he says to the poor man, you stand over there or come and sit at my feet." What I am saying here is simple. If you have any tendency at all along these lines, you are only kidding yourself. The Philippino people have a saying that really sums up what I have been trying to impart to those who have never gotten the word, "The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends." This means the higher we get up in society, the more humble we should be.
We are each a unique creation, made in the image of God and when a true understanding of our own self-worth produces humility and a deep respect for all those about us, we have then become a true citizen of the world. We should strive to be kind and gracious. If you have never come to that point in your relationships and the way you deal with others, you are only kidding yourself. The great thing about us human beings is that we have the power to change. Sometimes a self-inventory is painful, but after that first slapping I was on my way.
(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)