Ahhh… The joys of spiritually growing and maturing… Not! No, but seriously I realize that it can be a wonderful experience, but also a painful one especially when the Lord begins to show you who you really are. For me, I am specifically talking about the depths and ugliness of PRIDE. It is one of the things that the Lord intensely abhors. Proverbs 6:16-19 states the following:
16 These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
As I stated in my previous post, I have been dealing with some pre-mid life crisis type issues in the weeks prior to and after my birthday. All the things I hadn’t accomplished and regrets of the past have raped my thoughts and emotions for several weeks now. However, in the midst of all of this, the Holy Spirit slowly began to reveal to me what was really behind this mess. One word: PRIDE.
I thought that my life was supposed to play out a certain way because I supposedly “followed the formula.” When I was younger I tended to be a little bit of an over-achiever. Looking back, I now realize that this pride started back then even when I was a little boy. Because of rejection issues that had already surfaced, my being the “best” at everything was the poisonous remedy that I drank to curb the pain. Adding to this concoction were the media images of success that bombarded my mind and psyche. So what am I saying? Well it goes a little something like this: I thought I was entitled to a certain level of “success” because I had a strong work ethic, excelled in academics and sports, respected adults, stayed out of trouble and was a good little “church boy.” I thought that I had a VIP pass to some sort of “elitism” and that I was going to have these heightened, successful experiences. I deserved to be rewarded. Or so I thought. And then life happened and reality sucker-punched me in the face.
My failure to successfully compete in collegiate athletics was a MAJOR blow to my ego, and I was embarrassed because everyone had thought I would excel in track and field. But so many obstacles got in the way and truthfully, deep down on the inside I suspected that God had His hand in this and it angered me. My pride would not allow me to simply enjoy being a college student on campus. Whenever I encountered the athletes, I felt inferior. I was angry because I thought that I was supposed to be experiencing what they were and thought that God loved them more than me. Most of them weren’t as goody two-shoes as me, right? Wow. (Shaking my head) As a result, my life took a downward spiral because I embraced the false belief that God had somehow screwed me over. I turned to other vices to attempt to get the highs I thought I was missing out on. Due to this pride, it wasn’t good enough that I had a full scholarship to study engineering, which was an opportunity that millions of people would have loved to have had, and none of the countless blessings in my life were good enough because I didn’t get what I wanted.
Fast forward to my adult life, this arrogance followed me, only it was more subtle. The Lord has been showing me that pride has molded a belief system that said everything I put my mind to was supposed to bloom into some major success, simply because of who I was. Now obviously it is ok to have confidence but not arrogance. I remember a few years ago paging through this magazine that was profiling black men who were in there 20s and 30s. Many of them had started successful businesses and others were making six figure salaries in the corporate world. In that moment my pride asked me, “What have you done?” I was supposed to be one of them. Right? Well it pains me to mention this next incident but oh well… One of my younger cousins who played Division I college football got to play in the Rose Bowl back in 2003. I remember jealousy rearing its ugly head and regrets eating away at my heart. While I was certainly proud of him, my pride said that I was supposed to have had that type of experience because I had “done all the right things.” You see the Lord is showing me that pride does nothing more than rob you of joy and peace. In this instance, it prevented me from celebrating my cousin to the fullest.
The Lord is showing me the different ways that pride is still affecting my life. This idea that I’m supposed to be already flourishing in my endeavors, married with 2.5 kids and have this overall picture of a successful, ideal life is the result of pride. It completely and blatantly ignores whatever mission that God has for me while I’m here on this earth. The pride says that God’s plan isn’t good enough and that I had a more exciting and fulfilling life planned. I realize now pride will HINDER your destiny and purpose. My focus is supposed to be on whatever pleases the Father and not what pleases me. I also see that I’ve become somewhat difficult to please. True enough hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when it gets to the point where I take things for granted because I think I’m entitled, something is seriously wrong. Just because I did the things I was supposed to doesn’t mean that I’m entitled something. If anything, those things I mentioned should be expected. Therefore; there was some resistance against me that came from the heavens because the Word says that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. It is no surprise now that many things never quite seemed to work out because of my attitude. Now that I think about it, Lucifer was cast out of heaven because he thought he should be God’s equal due to all of his abilities! No wonder God hates pride so much! Pride is mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible and now I see why.
So this pre-mid life crisis has all been due to pride and ultimately a lack of trust in the Lord. The only guarantees we have in life is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. There are plenty of people in this world who are far more deserving of success than I am, but whose lives are full of hardship. What makes me any better than the man in some third world country who works like a Hebrew slave just to feed his family? If God desires to use someone’s life or even mine to be example to others, is He wrong? Pride answers that question with a “yes” because it is all about pleasing self. The Lord gave me the following “short list” of the negative effects of pride:
- Cares too much about appearances
- Sense of entitlement; ungrateful
- Overanxious to operate in gifts and talents
- Always has something to prove
- Desires their will over God’s plan
The opposite of pride is obviously humility. It is the quiet, gentle and meek attitude that says, “Not my will but Yours Lord.” It doesn’t place too much importance on self and understands things of eternal value. Being humble keeps your eyes looking up at Him. Being prideful causes you to look at everything else except Him. If the Lord is calling you to some radical lifestyle that pleases Him, pride will step in because it doesn’t want to appear “crazy” or “foolish” to the world.
I remember a saying that states “Pain will teach you what pride won’t let you learn.” Such a powerful statement! I now choose to live from that place. The pain I have endured has been full of lessons that pride would have tried to avoid. No more pre-mid life crises. I lay my pride at the foot of the cross and walk away…