Commentary: Delighting in difference

I spent last weekend on the Texas coast, watching my 7-month-old daughter interact with another baby her age, the son of an old friend. The parents watched as my little Sofia crawled circles around baby Ira. Next was Ira’s impressive catch of a falling toy — a notable event if enacted by an adult and downright extraordinary for a baby. We compared notes on baby talk, teeth and favorite foods — and, of course, we delighted in their interactions.

Driving home, I felt refreshed by the new mom talk and even the comparisons, and I realized how rare this was. We were able to take pleasure in the personalities and differences of our children, rather than isolate ourselves with feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Ira’s simple contentment with the toy in his hand led me to appreciate this trait in him while relishing the boundless exploration that results from the opposite trait in my own daughter.

 

Delighting in difference: What a contrast from what I so often see in myself and my millennial peers. So often, looking at the lives and personalities of others incites envy rooted in feelings of deficiency and lack. On Facebook, we see that a college classmate had an idyllic Boston wedding before a Costa Rican honeymoon, an old acquaintance is graduating from Harvard Medical School, and a formerly close friend just bought a beautiful house. Once, I looked green-eyed at photos of an old colleague’s new flat in London before I even realized that I don’t actually want to live in London.

Fortunately for us, God himself, who exists as three persons in one, models the ideal attitude toward difference. In the Trinity, we see the Father and the Son delight in each other, with the Spirit as their mutual delight. The Father regards the Son’s humanity and his eternally begotten image, the Spirit, with delight.

Early Church Father Athanasius said, “When was it then that the Father did not rejoice? But if he has always rejoiced, then there was always the one in whom he rejoiced. In whom, then, does the Father rejoice (cf. Prv 8:30), except by seeing himself in his own image (eikoni), which is his Word? … And how does the Son too rejoice, except by seeing himself in the Father” (Orations 2.2).

The Trinity models the delight in difference that we are called to have in response to other’s gifts, talents and fortunes. Enjoying the gifts of others mirrors the self-gift and receptivity of Trinitarian love. In other words, it isn’t enough to stop comparing ourselves to others, including those we “see” only on social media. We must go a step further and delight in their gifts, talents and very lives.

 Anamaría Scaperlanda Biddick is a freelance columnist for the Sooner Catholic.