No Schadenfreude Zone

The Wednesday Word podcast is taking the week off. Please enjoy this devotional by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries.

“No Schadenfreude Zone”

OK, so I am going a little off script here, but stay with me.

Surely I’m not the only one who subscribed to AppleTV for the sole purpose of being able to watch “Ted Lasso”, right? I was in a ZOOM training during COVID (one of many) where the presenter shared a clip from “Ted Lasso”. I was immediately hooked! It was an unexpected show, and why?  Because it was happy, optimistic, and just plain sweet. Ted (the main character) believes in the importance of believing — in ourselves, in each other, and in the good in the world. He even has a sign that says “believe” taped above the door of their locker room.

In one episode he announces that the office is a “no-schadenfreude zone.” In case you are not up on your German, schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another — and Ted will have no part in that. As a soccer coach, Ted is competitive and he wants to win, but he doesn’t want to win (at soccer or anything really) at the expense of another person. And he certainly won’t revel in their sorrow.

The opposite of schadenfreude is freudenfreude, which is to delight and share in the joy of another’s success. In Romans 12:15, we read Paul’s words: “Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying.” So then, freudenfreude is what we are called to do, right? We are called to sit with, be with, and walk with those in their hard times; and smile with, dance with, and celebrate with them in their good times.

There sure does seem to be a lot of “us” and “them” talk in the world today. If you are a part of the community group that is doing the “To Kill a Mockingbird” study, we are discussing the “us” and “them” of that time that caused an innocent man to lose his life, and others to delight in his misfortune.

That is an extreme example, but if we are honest with ourselves, we have all probably been both the “us” and the “them” in our lives. Growing up in a place where nearly everyone I went to school with was the same religion, I was a “them”. But I can remember going to basketball games at the high schools across town in poorer parts of town and being in the bleachers with the “them” students — the ones who drove nice cars and wore nice shoes and chanted obnoxiously, putting down not just their basketball skills, but their way of life. Neither of those felt great.

The older I get, the more I appreciate being a part of the “we” crowd. We the people of this family, neighborhood, community, country, church… We are better together. And when we come together and celebrate each other’s blessings and accomplishments, we are celebrating the God who created us all to love and be loved in this world.

So how do we go from “us” and “them” to “we”?  I think it might start with declaring a “No Schadenfreude Zone” in our little corners of the world.

Gott schütze dich.

(God bless you),

Julie 🙂