There is a weirdly vast universe of spitting contests.
When I thought of this article’s premise, watermelon seeds were at the front of my mind. Upon a quick internet search, however, I discovered a wide and disturbing range of things that people spit for prizes. There is (of course) watermelon seed spitting competitions. But there’s also cherry pits, tobacco juice, and in some remote part of Africa people compete in spitting antelope dung.
Yep. Antelope dung. Apparently it comes in some sort of pellet and is able to be spat (to be spatten?) preferably dry, of course.
That last contest is what I’ve seen (and been guilty of) the past year. Not the antelope’s waste, per se, but waste nonetheless. It has been a year since the first shelter-in-place orders/recommendations/encouragements/fiats have happened. And although it has lessened considerably after twelve months, the lengths to which we humans go to prove how much we are all suffering has become a proverbial spitting contest.
You had to homeschool? Well, I have more kids than you, so my experience was harder. You lost income? Well, I lost more. You have a hard job? Well, my job is harder. You got sick? Let me tell you how sick I was.
Unlike actual spitting contests, however, these proverbial contests are not done in joy and merriment, but in bitterness and one-upmanship. We want people to feel sorry for us and recognize how hard our life has been.
But for the life of me, I cannot recall any place in Scripture that encourages us to show how great our suffering is. Maybe Galatians 6:17, “Let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Maybe Philippians 3:4, “If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!” But both of these words of Paul, in their proper context, go to the apostle’s points that (a) he is truly an authoritative apostle of Christ and (b) it doesn’t matter how much you suffer, “I consider it loss for the sake of Christ.”
Let’s turn the spitting contest on its head. Instead of trying to one-up each other about how busy, stressed, unhealthy, suffering we all are, how about bragging about how blessed we are? How about when someone complains about how busy/stressed/unhealthy/suffering they are, we (at least pretend to) have compassion and offer to pray for them instead of one-upping them? How about instead of complaining about how busy/stressed/unhealthy/suffering we are, we fall to our knees and thank God Almighty that He hasn’t yet destroyed/paralyzed/killed/wiped us off the face of the planet?
That’s a contest I’d like to see. And I’ll bet it tastes better than antelope dung.