Archives for posts with tag: pride

Why stop now? People seem to like this format. Since my blog as of late has turned into a diary of sorts with which I confess the most selfish parts of me, let’s rip off another band-aid, shall we?

I’ve set out to really work on changing something about my character. It’s a fundamental flaw of mine – something so deeply embedded into my way of thinking that I only realize I’m doing it every once in a while. Maybe you struggle with this, as well, even if just in your subconsciousness. Here it is: I, for most of my life, only begrudgingly celebrate the successes of others. Sometimes I have a hard time even acknowledging when someone I know and/or love does something great. The center of this problem is my struggle with pride, which you can read about here.

Why do I do this? Honestly, I think the reason is that I misguidedly believe that if I acknowledge or celebrate the success or talent of someone else, it somehow diminishes my own talent or success. Which is ridiculous. But, for me, it really sometimes feels like admitting defeat if someone else’s garden is producing more fruit than mine. Or a friend’s photography or craft or baking business is really taking off and those things are really still just hobbies for me. Or – get this – someone I love and/or admire offers me insightful, intelligent, spiritual advice that I hadn’t come to on my own. Those are all real life examples of things I’ve not wanted to celebrate in other people because I have this problem where I think I need to be better. Man, that hurts me to say out loud.

The reason this is heartbreaking is because, often, what I’m really rejecting is a God-given gift, ability, or trait that someone is choosing to use for His glory! How could my response be anything but celebratory? Does it somehow make me MORE successful or talented to ignore the achievements of others? Of course not! And I really, really want my love for Christ and for others to be so great that a win for my friends really feels like a win for me, too. I want my people to know that I’m rooting for them and I really want to be a source of encouragement for people who are using their gifts!

I will say, there are some gifts people have that I have no problem giving a Standing O for. Singing is one of them. I am NOT a good singer. Not at all. I try and I dream and I pray for an angelic voice but, well, that request remains a prayer list staple… My sister is an incredibly talented singer. Since I know I’m not competitive in the singing race, it’s easy for me to give her praise and not feel a pang of jealousy. She’s better than me and that’s all there is to it. In fact, I cry happy tears when she sings because her talent is so wrapped up in the heart of God that I can hear him through her voice. Sometimes awesome graffiti makes me cry. Sometimes it’s a youtube video of a world class ballerina or a street drummer in New York. I can’t do any of those things well and they are using their gifts so beautifully that I am awestruck and grateful to the God who made them and gave them such talent.

But from now on, I want to be someone who applauds my “competition” instead of toeing the line with jealousy at their achievement. That said, I’m going to start calling out my friends and family for the things they do that are grand, be it a delishly prepared apple pie or the gentlest, most thoughtful encouragement, or a blow-my-mind expert parenting move. I want to celebrate you people because you are worth celebrating. You are inspiring and smart and beautiful and all kinds of talented. Thank you for embracing your gifts and sharing them with me!

We all have something, right? A fatal flaw that we can’t seem to shake? I’m telling you mine.

We’ll just rip it off like a bandaid and expose this thing for what it is: my ongoing sin of pride. Pride is so hard to overcome; in fact, it will likely be the battle I fight my whole life rather than something I can rid myself of once and for all. I understand how dangerous and filthy pride is, and I fight it in me. For anyone who passes pride off as “not that bad” a sin, read this short excerpt and, when you have some time, go ahead and read this whole blog by Fabienne Harford:

Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a doctor.

We are all in need of a Savior. There’s no heavenly ranking system for sin. If you’re not crying out for a Savior, then you might be struggling with pride. If you are quick to notice all the other people who are in need of a Savior more than you, then you are definitely struggling with pride.

Anyway, it’s crazy, with as dangerous and blinding a problem as the sin of pride is, I can post this confession and be not at all nervous about the repercussions because America isn’t too bothered by pride – celebrates it even. But what if my Great Sin was something else? What if I asked for help kicking my crack habit? What if I confessed an affair? What if I needed to let my loved ones know I was gay? No way on earth would I freely reveal those things for fear that I would lose friends or at least be treated differently. This double standard is not a God problem. It’s not a Bible problem. It’s a problem we have as people. We’re the ones who have come up with the ranking system. Sidenote: In my heart and in my gut, I’m certainly more disgusted by a child molester than by a Wall Street guy who’s cheating someone out of money. I do think that instinct IS God-given, but meant more for us to protect those who are the most helpless and vulnerable rather than to incite riot against the person committing the crime.

It’s not just believers who adhere to the sin ranking system. I have a non-religious friend who has lived a very difficult life – chronic drug use and relapses, isolation from his now teenaged daughter, a brother who committed suicide. The future feels bleak for him and he was telling me one day how much “better” I am than he is. “What have you ever done?” he asked. “Pride. Pride. Pride. And I have a temper. I yell at my kids when they irritate me.” He rolled his eyes, passing my stuff off as small potatoes. And, I confess, I’d rather have my current set of problems than his. By the standard of the world, I am good. Just fine. My family may even be more functional than average. But as my minister Chris Seidman said recently, “It’s a level playing field at the foot of the cross.” My friend and I are equally in need of the mercy and forgiveness that Jesus offers.

There’s a lot going on right now socially in America. We’ve got tense race issues, gay marriage, gun rights, and illegal immigration. No need to delve into debates over any of those issues, but they’re the reddest, hottest, hot-button discussions people are having. I have my own opinions on these topics, but no ruling or legislation or law has ever disheartened me more than observing the total lack of compassion that spews from the mouths of those (on both side of the issues) who are angrily picking fights in the aftermath. These reactions expose the pride that we are all drowning in.

If we truly understood the gravity of our sin, how could we spend so much emotion and energy pointing fingers at each other?

If we could get a grip on how quickly we’re sinking in our own pits of quicksand, where do we get off berating someone else for the mess they’re in?

Love is what we’re supposed to be doing – letting our understanding of where our own sin has left us lead us to compassion for the people around us who are as wretched, messed up, and pathetic as we are. But that means we first need to GET it. Not many of us feel desperately ashamed and broken over our sin. While we acknowledge that there is a sin rank system in our world and, admittedly, the natural consequences of different sins vary greatly, there is no sin rank system in heaven. We all need Jesus equally and if that’s hard for you to swallow, then you may struggle with pride.

All this to say, it’s this attitude we have about “worse” sins that is keeping people from our churches. I am committed to changing my thinking. To learning to love people who sometimes scare me because of the places they’ve been. To letting the knowledge of my own brokenness lead me to compassion and to serving others who are also struggling with something, be it my same sin tendencies or something very different.

We’re all in this together. We really are. So let’s help each other succeed. And one other thing since this post is kind of a bummer: God takes our jagged, ugly brokenness, carefully and lovingly puts together the pieces with the restoring power of Jesus’ blood, and invites us into his presence to eat with him at his table. He doesn’t look back and he doesn’t keep record of our wrongs. Neither should we once we have received the freedom and joy we have been offered through salvation in Jesus Christ. No matter where we’ve been, we all have been given the same shot at happy endings to our life stories.