I have been quite a bit about my own pride over the past few weeks. Really, it's more a lesson in humility than anything, but the two are irrevocably tied together. I feel like so often I know I need to work on this area or that, I read scripture and sing songs and pray that I can be more like Jesus and less like myself. But this, THIS is different. Because this has been one of those rare times when without seeking it, the Lord has just demanded a heart change. Not that this probably wasn't a long time coming, but when Jesus decides that you need to be sharpened (and softened) there is no resisting.
So here are my lessons in humility, in only as much detail as necessary so as to keep the focus on God's journey in repurposing me instead of my individual story.
1) Humility through Under Appreciation
I have been faced with a few interactions over the last couple of months that left me feeling greatly under appreciated, and because Satan would love to justify my sin of relying on the approval of others, I initially masked my pride with anger. "How dare you?! Look at all I've done for you, and all you want is to ask for more? What gives you the right? If anything, you should be THANKING me for what I've done. I'm not going to do anything else for you until you acknowledge how much you need me and how great I am."
Pride demands recognition and awards.
Humility serves quietly in the background.
2) Humility through Forgiveness
You ever have an argument with someone you really care about and even though it's not easy for you, you hold your temper and apologize? Pride demands a pat on the back for that. And if that apology or kind words aren't reciprocated? Pride tells you to cut the relationship off, let them come to you if they want to make things right! You did your part, you offered the olive branch. For heaven's sake, don't GROVEL.
But humility sees things differently. Humility says to forgive, to empathize, to think of others instead of yourself. Humility says it's not good enough to just be the "bigger person" and apologize first, but instead to seek reconciliation to its completion. Humility says to forgive without expectations of receiving forgiveness or an attitude of humility in return.
Pride insists on everything being equal.
Humility is never interested in winners and losers.
3) Humility through Immaturity
Recently, I have been lucky enough to have my path intersect with some wonderful women who are older and wiser than me, and for the purpose of this post, much MUCH more humble. Women who truly have very little interest in self-promotion. Women who seek the Lord's counsel in everything, even something as small as posting an Instagram pic (or publishing a blog post). Women who are quick to admit they are still a work in progress and imperfect in many ways.
The more time I spend with them the more I recognize that I am a closet know-it-all, feigning the passion for growth but always ready to prove how grown I already am. This is especially hard for me as a pastor's wife, because sometimes I feel that there is a higher expectation of "holiness" that I am required to meet. And that expectation allows for pride to take root in my heart with the need to prove to everyone that I won't let them down, that I AM super holy. But in the end, this doesn't prove anything except that the Cross is the only holy thing about me, without it I am incredibly broken and in need of saving.
Pride doesn't care about age or life experience, it already knows everything and is always right.
Humility is insatiably teachable, always looking for an opportunity to learn and look more like Christ.
The thing is, I like being right. And I like winning, oh my GOODNESS how much I like winning. Which is exactly why I know that this lesson in humility would have never been my idea. To be completely honest, there have been many, many tears shed on this journey. Why am I not being treated the way I feel I deserve? Why do I keep having to be the bigger person all the time? Why does it feel like I'm the ONLY person choosing to be humble? It's just NOT FAIR (and I really, really like things to be fair. I'm a middle child, justice is my domain). But there is no scale in God's book measuring the goodness of me verses other people. The only scale He is using measures my character against the character of Jesus and I am sorely off balance.
In the end, this painful lesson in humility is God's way of evening the scales, His way of nudging my side a little closer to Jesus; narrowing not only the gap between his character and mine, but also between who I thought I was and who I really am.