Losing and winning the fight with pride
We argued. Angry words spilled out of both our mouths until a line was crossed. Anger turned to hurt. My hurt.
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Ps. 51:17).*
Barely holding on to my emotions so the person couldn’t see me wounded, I locked my lips and exited the room. I would never speak with that person again. Never, ever, ever!
Later, as I lamented to God in my journal about the situation and how hurt and angry I was, I heard a quiet voice say to me: You are My representative in your home. How will you showcase My character to this person who hurt you?
Excuse me! You want me to do what? I asked disbelievingly.
The question came again: How will you showcase My character to this person who hurt you?
I’m not going to apologize! I argued defiantly. I will not. This is like giving permission for someone to treat you like, like . . . I couldn’t find the words.
Represent Me to this person, Yvonne.
I don’t want to.
Do you love Me?
I uttered a reluctant “Yes.” He was setting me up.
Then do as I ask.
But . . . it’s not right. I did nothing wrong. He was the one who crossed a line. He needs to apologize to me.
“Then go be a peacemaker.”
I screwed up my face, gnashed my teeth, mentally cursed my discipleship oath, and sighed deep sighs before reluctantly hissing at God and rolling my eyeballs.
I put down the pen and journal, stood up, and took two steps down the pathway toward peace. But my heart wasn’t in it. And my pride took hold. No. No. No. He’s the one in the wrong.
I turned back.
God’s voice spoke to me again.
I bowed my head, took a deep breath, and tried once more to go be a peacemaker, to showcase God working in me to this person who wasn’t a believer.
Again, pride stopped me in my tracks.
That’s when it hit me that my issue had become less about the argument and more about a bigger issue—about the vow I’d taken to follow God. Would I let my pride overrule my relationship with Him? Was I willing to be His representative even when I didn’t feel like it?
At that moment I so didn’t want to do what God wanted me to do. The strength of my rebellion frightened me. This test of my discipleship—because that’s what it felt like—would I pass it or fail? The choice was up to me.
You and Pride
What is your relationship with pride?
Some people’s pride won’t let them say “I’m sorry” or ask for help—even when it’s desperately needed. Because of pride we buy houses we can’t afford or credit expensive brand-name items in order to show off. We refuse to work in jobs that are supposedly “beneath” us. We won’t extend forgiveness or repent of wrongs done. Proudly we sit on our high horses, prodded by self-determination, and snort our independence for all to see.
And then we come close to Jesus and realize that being His disciple calls for lots of saying “I’m sorry,” giving up of self, and most of all, taking on the mantle of humble servanthood.
My entire being rebels against that. When your ancestors have spent years under the yoke of oppression, servanthood is the last thing you want to do. Freedom to live your life on your terms is what you desire.
Yet He calls us to be humble servants: “Then he said to the crowd: ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me’” (Luke 9:23).
What God desires is for me to give up control, to cede it over to Him. I fight against this. I don’t want anyone making decisions for me; not even God. So I openly or quietly defy Him; rebel against His rules and counsel; dig in my heels or storm off in a huff to be the captain of my own destiny.
And then, as happens far too often, so that I should know better by now, I get slapped in the face by the realities of a life devoid of God on Planet Earth. When I fall flat on my face and find myself eating with pigs, when I’m broken by my own choices or face the grim harshness of a sin-cursed existence, I remember my Father God and cry out to Him.
Help me, Daddy! Help me!
And here comes my Father running, hugging me, kissing me, missing me, forgiving me. This God, the Creator of the universe, has no pride when it comes to loving me. Rebellious, defiant, broken-down, undeserving me. He covers up my filthiness with His best robe and orders a celebratory feast of welcome. And in the warmth of His embrace I remember why it’s wise to trust Him, to let myself become a slave of choice shackled with His yoke. I remember His assurance: “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matt. 11:30).
So I return home and yield to Him because I see how much He loves me. I yield because there can be only one Master, and His ways and thoughts are always for my good. I yield because when I think about who God is and what I am, it makes perfect sense to obey Him. I yield because it’s the only way to fully become the person He created me to be.
I yield because it’s the vow that I’ve taken—to be a Christian.
I did eventually go make peace that evening after asking God for strength to do that which I didn’t wish to do. It was an awkwardly worded peace offering, but it opened the door to healing and growth in that relationship.
*Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.