Friday, December 12, 2014

Pride: Strong wall and poisoned well

The poster boy for pride doesn't represent my pride well.
I've always thought that pride was like what we see in Disney movies: a boastful character with a pumped-up chest, usually wearing bright red and demanding attention from everyone around him. Picture Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They're full of themselves, they're the best at everything and  tend to be woefully unbearable.

But I've begun to see pride differently. Pride might be what makes you turn down food stamps, or keep quiet about depression. It is holds silent the cries of people who are too afraid to look weak and instead bury themselves in all the good-looking things they can muster.

Basically, pride is a refusal to admit to my shortcomings and become vulnerable.

That's a little eye opening, isn't it? Pride is a crippling, undermining disease. It keeps me isolated in more ways than one, filling my heart with fear of my wrongdoings being unearthed. The result isn't safety or protection. All that happens is that, over time, the seeds of doubt, loneliness, depression and darkness take hold and grow into strongholds. The longer they grow, the more embarrassing they become and so we build our prideful little walls even higher.

"Look at my mighty fortress," I might tell my friends. "Look how tough the gate is, and how sturdy the foundation!"

All the while, there's a death spreading through the well water, poisoning the occupants. And if I'm so terrified of coming out of my shell, I'll waste away and not improve.

Why the siege? Fear of judgement, maybe. It's easier to tell my problems to a stranger than to a friend -- there's no accountability, and no reason for them to look at me any differently. There's zero vulnerability in a meeting like that, and the sole benefit is to simply get the words off my chest and go about my business.

But the poison is still in the well.

And I think that's why Christ told us to seek the fellowship of other believers. The disciples were in a group of 12, not each one on his own. The missionaries in the early church often went in pairs, not alone. The early church worshiped together, ate together, prayed together and died together.

It's like I wrote about a few weeks — months? — ago: the lone sheep will get picked off by the wolf. That post was talking about clinging to God, but I think the wisdom goes just as far when referring to other believers. I can't sit on an island and hope to see any change.

Here's where pride rears its head once again: I'll pray and ask God for things reluctantly, feeling guilty because I'm somehow not worthy or not good enough to ask — yet. Give me some time, God, and I'll have worked hard and cleaned myself up. Then you can take over.

Except it doesn't work that way. I won't ever get to the point where I'm good enough, and while that doesn't warrant throwing up my hands in defeat, it does mean I should be transparent with God from the beginning.

What is the point of pride, anyway? A prideful person sets themselves apart from others. The longer you stay that way, the more people begin to believe that you're alright on your own, even when you're not. The longer I stay this way, the more I begin to believe I can handle my problems, even when I can't.

I was going to type out a little prayer for me to remember and attempt to live by, and it was going to begin with something along the lines of asking God to cut down my pride and humble me. And even though it's with growth and healing in mind, that's terrifying — and rather so. Being humbled and made vulnerable to others is a scary thought for me, which again gives credence to the idea of pride being a response to fear.

For me, then, this is more appropriate:

Lord make me brave enough to become vulnerable, and help me to see my growth and rebuilding in spite of the fear vulnerability brings. Help me to be humble enough to ask for help when I need it, and to seek fellowship in order to stay that way.

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