Apples, Oranges, and Lemons: the Stuff of Nightmares

Night terrors. They come at bedtime, in the middle of the night, and sometimes early in the morning, terrifying images robbing me of sleep, and peace of mind. Some are so frightening they force me out of bed.

Several tricks help to eradicate these scenes: Solitaire, a book, and a few simple computer games. These, however, are only momentary distractions. It is Scripture that usually exterminates them — for a while.

After a particularly rough night of self-accusation, I rose, went into my study, and opened that day’s devotions. In Living Faith, Fr. Martin Pable, O.F.M. talked about humility. Alcoholics Anonymous gives their members this definition: “Humility means not to make comparisons.” 

I was stunned. I am not an apple, or an orange, not even a lemon. I am a gifted and flawed child of God, neither superior or inferior.

The phrase, repeated often, removes a host of worries. I am free to accept my talents and admit my failings. Carried further, it removes the fear of what others will say, or think. No more imaginary scenarios where I feel excluded, ignored, or dismissed. Those things might happen in actuality, but I don’t need to dwell there, and I especially do not need to put myself there.

That simple little line exploded my night terrors. They still try to creep in and sing their litany of accusations, and although I do stand accused of those misdeeds, God has forgiven me, even when others will not forgive, including myself. 

Then, one more application. I have all I need. I may not have everything someone else has, but I have all I need to be content, even joyful, blessed to have life. Everything else is an embellishment.

Two simple words changed my life: no comparisons.


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