I’ve been noticing something over the last several years. Some things are becoming too plain, common, and ordinary. Very recently I saw a great example of this when someone whom I hold in high regards was out of town. There were people who had come into town to fellowship and celebrate with those who are close to this person; yet the people who were closest to the individual, did not celebrate as much as those who came from afar. The ones closest to this person did not have the same enthusiasm or excitement about what was regularly in their midst. This person had become too familiarto them; like a glass of water sitting on the edge of a ships dock.
It reminded me so much of Jesus. In Matthew 13:54-58 we see Jesus had just been traveling, teaching, and touching people’s lives. He was making a great impact in his community, among his people. Yet, for all that he was doing, when he came around the people who knew him best, they took issue with him. They marveled at his wisdom and power? They asked questions like, “Is this not the Carpenter’s son? Is not his mother Mary?” As if to say that because of who his mom and father were, and because of his birth, he should not be capable of what he was doing; what he was doing is something to be expected of someone of greater standing in the community.
What is it that causes us to take the people closest to us for granted? What is it that says, because they are this or they have this background or that past, that they are not worthy or are undeserving of celebrating or acknowledgement? We neglect and trivialize people most often because we become too familiar with them. In the Random House College dictionary, the word familiar is defined as being, “common or generally known or seen; informal and easy; unceremonious and unconstrained.” To put it another way, we can become unduly intimate with a person and take liberties when it comes to our associations with them because we are all too used to them being with us.
I have had my share of experience in feeling the brunt of this. People would see me as the proverbial “ram in the bush.” I would only be called on for something as an afterthought or as a backup, just in case something didn’t pan out. I was known, and yet few knew what to make of me because I was always there. They saw my worth and at the same time did not fully appreciate me. There would be those who did not know me that would say, “My, what wisdom from someone so young.”
When we become too familiar with people:
- We rob them of their true power and potential: In Jesus’ case, the aforementioned passage of scripture tells us that he could do no mighty miracles. His power to impact lives was hindered.
- We reduce them to less than they are: The people took Jesus as regular, ordinary and common. It didn’t matter that he’d been travelling around the various towns healing thousands. It didn’t matter that he had turned water into wine at a friend’s wedding. It didn’t matter that he fed thousands with a two piece fish dinner. It didn’t matter that he had a more prolific understanding of God’s word than the entire Pharisee and Sadducee combined. He was Mary’s and the Carpenter’s son. No more and no less.
- We deny them their due: Here was the promised messiah that they had been waiting on since Isaiah first prophesied of him. He was worthy of much more than the woman Mary Magdalene did for him as she bathed his feet and anointed them with oil. He more than anyone deserved to have been released on that day when he stood before Pilate, yet the people cried for Barabbus.
- We risk losing them to those who will recognize them: Too often musicians and gifted people are lost in God’s kingdom because those who know them get too familiar with them. Because of this, they leave for those who will appreciate what they have. For some, it leads to paths that they can never return from. Others can return, yet there is an internal loss that is seldom repaired.
If you want to keep from becoming too familiar:
- Find the uncommon denominator: You must often step outside of where you are. Sometimes, being so close to something, you get comfortable and so used to it that you begin to think the favor, the grace, the gift of it is something you should be entitled to rather than a privilege to have. In order to not see them is such light, you must be willing to see what makes them stand out. There are no two people alike. Even twins have uniqueness about them. It is those minute details that make an individual special; extraordinary.
- Go bigger than the rest: When others are in awe and amazement, validate and celebrate it. It means so much more when a child’s parent makes a big deal about their victories than others. Children would love nothing more than to have the attention and love of their own family. When others show more attention to your child than you, you are setting them up for a fall.
- Eulogize them: If you really want to let someone know that they aren’t too familiar to you, eulogize them while they are alive. Make it a point to periodically say to those around you that they matter.
QUESTION: What can you do to let those near you not become too familiar to you?