I allow myself two indulgences on a regular basis. Kirkland brand Dark Chocolate Covered Super Fruits, and hot chocolate. Now, before you remind me of the potential adverse effects of dairy and sugar, let me explain. I rationalize that indulging once a day in these somewhat nutritious treats keeps me away from the really bad stuff. Most of the time, anyway.
So, like I was saying, a bag of this yummy chocolate covered dried fruit seem to find their way into my cart whenever I shop at Costco. From there they go into a glass canister in my pantry. If you have any questions as to their exact location, my three-year-old grandson would be happy to show you!
Every afternoon I swoop my hand into the canister, snagging the largest pieces which are, of course, the Bing cherries. After a few days the cherries are all eaten so the next to go are the cranberries. By the end of the week, only the little blueberries are left. They all taste good, but somehow I’m a sucker for those big beautiful cherries. Just one will fill my mouth with chocolatey yummy-ness that triggers serotonin in my brain to take me to my happy place. Somehow this feeling just can’t be duplicated with the smaller, although just as tasty, cranberries and blueberries. It’s a tactile thing. In this case, bigger is better.
A few weeks ago I had a brilliant idea. Since the cherries are my favorite and will inevitably be eaten first, why not just sort them into two groups to save myself the hassle (and un-sanitary-ness) of raking my fingers through the canister? When I pour the fruit out of the original packaging, why not just pick out all the cherries at that time and put them in a separate bowl?
So, that’s what I did. I put this bowl of cherries on my desk (for convenience sake) and the cranberries and blueberries in the usual canister in the pantry.
But a funny thing happened. As I perused my bowl of cherries, they seemed to have shrunken. They didn’t look big anymore. They all looked small. I actually found myself searching for the biggest cherries in the bowl full of big cherries! By then I realized I had reached an all time low.
I also realized something else. Drawing upon my limited knowledge of physics and psychology (that’s reassuring, isn’t it?), I came to this conclusion: Without the little ones, the big ones don’t look big. I call this the Law of Big Cherries.
Profound, huh? So, why don’t the big cherries in a bowl full of big cherries look big? Why does big only look big when compared to small?
I don’t have an answer for that. It’s human nature, I guess. Even if life was the proverbial “bowl full of cherries” we all long for, we probably wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. We seem to need the boring times and even the bad times to fully enjoy the good times. It’s as if, without comparison, we don’t recognize true worth. It may be unfair, but it’s true.
We apply this not only to snacks, but to all areas of life. Comparison is a valid way of determining what we want most. It’s a method of choosing what we consider to be the best for us.
But sometimes we take it too far in ways that don’t benefit either ourselves or others. That’s when our preference for the “big cherries” becomes a mode of judgment against ourselves and others.
Comparison may prove to be in our favor: “Um. Compared to him, I’m not fat at all.”
Or, comparison may prove to be condemning: “Wow. Compared to her, I’m fat.”
We use logic every day to judge people and circumstances. But this logic is almost always based on comparison.
While comparison may prove useful in a number of situations, we need to be careful that we don’t let comparison become the standard. It’s too easy to judge something’s worth based on how it stacks up against something else instead of making a determination based on it’s own merits.
When my cousin and her husband recently shopped for a new motor home, comparison was a useful tool to find what worked best for them. Comparison separated the “too expensive” from the “do-able,” and the “not necessary” from the “needed.”
In some cases, comparison is based on absolutes. As in, “It would be unwise to extend ourselves that much.” Other times it’s based on preference. “I really like the casual feel of that decor rather than the traditional feel of the other one.”
In my case, I prefer big cherries. Someone else may prefer the medium sized cranberries because of their tartness. Another person may prefer the cute little blueberries. These are preferences.
Absolutes are different in that they do not change, regardless of our beliefs or opinions about them. Comparison neither elevates nor diminishes an absolute. The sun rises every morning whether or not we want it to. If we jump off a ten story building, we will die, regardless of whether we think we should or not.
Wisdom knows the difference between absolutes and preferences.
In God’s Word, we find the one, true standard. It isn’t based on comparison.
God loves us. He doesn’t love me more or less than you. His love is true, all encompassing, with everyone every day.
God forgives us when we ask. It doesn’t depend on whether I sinned more or less than anyone else. It is full and complete, every time.
God promises to watch over us every day, even in the midst of our problems. It doesn’t matter if my problems are bigger or smaller than your problems. He sees and cares about them all.
I’m so thankful God doesn’t operate by the Law of Big Cherries. For, when He looks down upon us, He doesn’t play favorites. Each one of us is the apple of His eye.
In case you’re wondering, I got rid of the bowl of big cherries and dumped them in the canister along with the rest. I discovered I prefer searching for the big ones while they look big. For me, that’s the challenge and that’s where the reward is found. At lease as far as chocolate covered cherries are concerned.