Our pastor is in the middle of a sermon series that addresses the “mayhem” in our lives. Some of this mayhem just happens–death, disease, accidents, having to watch other people experience heartache, and so on. Much of the mayhem, though, is something we choose–often while acting like it is our only option.
Yesterday’s sermon specifically focused on what happens when our lives get out of balance due to our own pride. This message really hit home for me, and I wanted to share an acrostic that was used–PRIDE–which illustrates how we often make the busyness in our life all about us.
People Pleasers–We are busy, busy, busy to win the approval of others. We can’t say “no” because of what so-and-so will think. We do the right things for the wrong reasons. We will look over our shoulders while serving in order to see who is watching. We love those pats on our backs, and we are highly motivated by the praise of the people around us.
Run after Respect–We are continually trying to prove something to someone else. Our ambition is fueled by hopes of personal glory and approval from others. This was something that I struggled with in my younger years–until I finally decided to own that God, my Heavenly Father, loved me no matter what. I didn’t have to earn His love; I had it forever just because. I recall a friend, a self-proclaimed People Pleaser, sharing that she remembered the precise moment when she realized that God could not possibly love her any more than He did at that moment. She has been trying to walk in that freedom ever since.
Indispensable Syndrome–We all want to feel needed, and we sometimes allow this desire to morph into something that sucks the life out of us, out of the people around us, and oftentimes out of the well-being of the organizations/systems/ministries which we so adamantly say we want to support. In essence, we overestimate our own importance. There always comes a time when we need to make changes in order to become more effective. And, frequently, there is often a time to just move on. This is incredibly difficult for many of us to realize, and many of us fight it tooth and nail because we have become possessive of something that is not really ours. I saw this principle in action firsthand last year when I watched my mom and stepdad downsize from a 3,000 square foot home and 20 acres to a 1,600 square foot home on a city lot. It was difficult decision for them to make, but they had the courage to make it when the time came, saving their children and grandchildren the heartache of having to make it for them some day. Their old house/property/stuff was not indispensable to who my mom and stepdad are to their families. If they had continued to hold on to the way it had always been, there would have eventually been a cost that could not have been paid by them. Life goes on…still full of good things…still with purpose. Different? Yes. Lesser? Not necessarily. Sometimes, changes brings greater things.
Desires go Haywire–We fall into the trap that more stuff equals a better life. We trust in our belongings/status/accomplishments to make us happy instead of trusting in Jesus to make us whole. I have only owned one brand-new car in my life, and I remember driving it home from the dealership thinking, “I bet I have the newest car on this road right now”. For some strange reason, I took great satisfaction in that thought at the time. Ironically, I now drive, by far, two of the oldest, most-used vehicles in America. I confess to being slightly embarrassed when a friend opens her door to get in and a part actually falls off, but I love not finding my identity in what I drive. And, I love that my hard-working husband is willing to drive crummy vehicles to allow me to stay home with our children. It has been one of the ways he has honored me and proven his commitment to our family.
Enjoy Pity–I live with a Marriage and Family Therapist (talk about needing pity!!), so I mostly broke the habit of throwing pity parties a long time ago. I get zero pity from my husband. Ever. (But, sometimes I miss them enough to just go to my room, close the door and throw one for myself.) Social media, though, gives us the opportunity to witness all kinds of folks seeking pity. There are an awful lot of memes out there that start with something like, “I bet I won’t get even one person to like this status…” Pity party. Most of us love company when we are in misery. Why is that? Why don’t we just shut up when we’re miserable? Instead, we spew our yuck onto anyone who will listen. And we wonder why we feel alone. If some of us worked half as hard at encouraging the people around us as we do at sucking people into our negative, draining, self-absorbed, habitual pity parties, we could certainly make the world a safer, more beautiful place.
Obviously, there are some of these that I struggle with more than others. The fact, though, is that I’ve given into them all at one point or another. Pride is a sneaky, vindictive quality. It seeks to remain subtle while going for the throat. It snatches peace from our hearts, steals joy from our relationships and muddles the truth of our purpose in life–all while whispering to us that we are not the problem.
“If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.” –C.S. Lewis
Thank you, Paul Gearhardt, for sharing what was on your heart (and for hopefully being okay with me passing it along with my own two cents thrown in from time to time).