I recently flew a couple hours from home to attend a rather fancy function. Close to the airport, and with no time to spare, I got that sick feeling every traveler dreads. I had forgotten to pack a necktie.
My first reactions were: (this may seem extreme, but my character is filled with flaws) anger at myself for being stupid; sadness and anger that I would most likely have to waste money to buy a tie, even though I have probably 40 ties at home that I rarely wear; and other general negative self-talk.
Thoughts raced into my mind. “Do I really need a tie?” “Will everyone else be wearing a tie?” “What if I buy a tie and then I get there and half the men are not wearing ties?… then I’ll be REALLY angry and upset.” “What if I don’t buy a tie and I get there and I’m the only one without a tie?… that will be embarrassing.” “Which is the greater downside?” “Maybe I can borrow a tie from someone.” The torment wouldn’t stop.
I knew this situation had the potential to cause the mental battle to continue for a long time. It threatened to consume me and rob my joy.
Somehow I was reminded of Jesus’ words to love your neighbor as yourself. The “as yourself” part doesn’t get a lot of attention, but I was fortunate enough to be in a discussion group on this topic just a few nights earlier. So I asked myself, “What would I do if I was traveling with my wife, one of our children, or ANY ‘neighbor’ and they were in this predicament?” The answer was, “I’d say ‘No big deal – these things happen – you had a lot on your mind when packing – etc. Let’s buy you a ____ the first chance we get, so we won’t have to think about this anymore.’ ” Then I’d buy the person the tie (or whatever) and put it out of my mind.
The obvious next internal question was, “Can I love myself as I would love that neighbor?”
In the gift shop at the airport was a tie rack. I selected the right color and pattern, bought it, and put it in my suitcase. Done. Peace.
I really like that tie now… not because it’s so exquisite, but because of what it represents.