One Up

I triple-dog dare you.

Most have either heard those words on the playground from the lips of our childhood friends, or in the classic 1983 Christmas movie, A Christmas Story, when Swartz challenges Flick with that very line. There seems to be something about outdoing another. Getting the best of someone else. Being superior to our fellow man. I don’t know why. I used to do it all the time—for humility’s sake (theirs, not mine). I know what I wrote.

We have all met those people. You know the kind: The complainers. The whiners. Or even the “Nobody is better than me” people. They all bother me. Now, as I write this, knowing what I am also about to write, I am more than fully aware of how much I will appear to fit into one—if not all—of those categories. How much of a hypocrite I will—or do—appear to be. But, I have a point to all of it. I really do.

As a U.S. Marine, I have claim to a title few will ever have. I know how arrogant that seems. However, before you get extra judgy on me, please be patient and stay with me for a bit longer.

“You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth—and the amusing thing about it is that they are.”
Father Kevin Keaney, chaplain who served with Marines in Korea

“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
Eleanor Roosevelt

I hope that may give those who do not know The Corps an idea of where I come from in my disdain for the whining, complaining, know-it-all’s. It’s not pretty. Still, my brother (also a Marine) and I used to do this thing. Our wives didn’t like it. And, if the truth be told, I am not very proud to have done it. Regardless, it was what it was. This game was a One-Up kinda thing. “Oh, you did (fill in the blank)? Well, try doing it with (fill this in with anything we had ever done with Uncle Sam).” Once, my brother was with some friends and one guy started complaining about the weekend hike he did where he went 10 miles. My brother laughed and then suggested that the guy try it with a full combat load, and running. Not knowing what that meant, my brother went home, collected his gear, brought it back, had the guy put it on, and then gave him weights to compensate for the missing ammo and other things. The guy shut up and stopped complaining.

I have done that too. Even here I told about how I went uphill, in the snow, where people died, had violent diarrhea, team members got frostbite, and more. How many of you have done that? Or when I completed a 50-mile march, in full combat gear (a weight that can vary anywhere from 68–120+ pounds. ours was closer to the 120-pound mark), in one morning. One morning! Anyone else? Anyone? Bueller? Right. And, in case you’re wondering, in order to do that, the slowest we moved was six miles per hour—at the slowest. Or, somewhere out in the Pacific, transport on fire… Well, you get the idea. While I know others have done things I have not, my sympathy for humanity is usually low. Oh no. You got your feelings hurt? Wah. Or: You had to wake up at eight o’clock, under your own free will, after not doing anything the day before? Poor baby. I don’t do well with that. I’m working on it. It’s a slow progress.

All that aside. I had a thought the other day that really shook me up. I’ve been One-Up’d. Forever.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And, over the past few years, the church has instituted a program to help us study the scriptures on a more personal level, with the intent of helping us build a better relationship with our Savior and God. With every week there are lessons and topics for us to ponder and pray about. Scriptures to read and study. Topics to discuss with our families. All of it has been really grand. I have been specifically enjoying the Old Testament and New Testament (last year and this year, respectively) histories. The buildings. The maps and lands. The genealogy. The connectivity to those ancient people and what they endured. It has been amazing. So, here is where the thought came in. I’ve been One-Up’d, and can never outdo it: The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For whatever reason, as I have been studying and reading about Christ, and preparing for the upcoming Easter celebration, a series of fictional conversations have popped into my mind. Things I can almost imagine my Savior saying to me, on my judgment day. Things like: Me, “I felt so betrayed when my coworker said those things about me behind my back. They were all lies.” Christ, “I was sentenced to death for something I never did.”

Me, “I am so tired. I worked so hard today. Man, am I sore.”
Christ, “I bled from every pore, for your sins, while my friends slept.”

Me, “My hands hurt. Carpal tunnel sucks.”
Christ, “I was nailed to a cross.”

Me, “I feel dead. What a day.”
Christ, “I did die. Remember that coss thing I mentioned? It was excruciating.”

Now, don’t think me sacrilegious, or anything. That’s not what I am going for here. It’s just that recently it hit me that no matter how tough (or superior) I think I might be, might have been, or will be, there is someone who has suffered more, understood more, done more… than I ever have or could. The Savior died and was resurrected so that I can have peace in the afterlife. He gave more and endured more than I ever can. In my hardest moments. My darkest hours. In my worst times. He has still One-Up’d me at every turn. Not to spite me, or to put me in my place—like I have done to and for others (I know what I wrote). But, He has done it because He loves me—and you. He did it all for all of us. That just blows my mind. While I have known and understood this my whole life, it only really became something more intimate and profound in recent time. Like, if Christ were sitting next to me, on my porch, and we were chatting: Me, “I have this scar on my finger from an ax.” Christ, “Wanna see the one on my side, from a spear?”

It probably wouldn’t be that simplistic, but, then again, maybe it would. He would know how to reach me. Because He knows me. God knows me. So, I can’t imagine why His son would not.

With all this, I guess, my point is this: Remember Him. Think about all that Christ has done for the world. What He has done for you. I am fully aware that I am not a perfect man. I have made some really bad choices. And yet, still, He is there for me. Jesus Christ willingly died for me. And more importantly, rose from the dead. To save my soul so that I might live with Him and God, again. I can think of nothing better. I love this time of year. The celebration of the resurrection of the Savior of mankind. Sure, Christmas is great and all (the celebration of His birth), but Easter… The celebration of His resurrection. Now that is something to really celebrate.

May you find peace and joy in the knowledge of a living God and a merciful Savior who love you. May this Easter Sunday bring you more than just chocolate and baskets of goodies. May it provide you with serenity in a world of insanity. May God be with you. May the love of the Savior be with you.

Happy Easter. Peace be with you, and God bless.

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