Too Proud for a Simple Cup?
The first time I went through chemotherapy and lost my hair, my friend took a picture of me in a knit hat that was made for patients going through chemo. I wore it at night because my head would get so cold. She quickly told me not to ever show that picture to anyone and to not where the hat in public. It really wasn't a great picture. This morning as I write, I thought you should see the way I look when I am writing and having coffee in the morning. Love the hair, right? But this is more the true me than almost any picture you will ever see of me. If you camp with me at all, this is it. If you want an early morning coffee chat, this is me. Definitely me when I am working out, or running, or even hiking. This is me if you face time me from Alaska, or need me to help with an early morning garage sale. This is me! I recently did a TV interview for a stage drama I am in and of course, got all dolled up knowing, heaven knows how many people, would see me across the region. But, when I watched it, I really didn't feel like that was ME. I felt like that was the character I would be playing and not the real me. I felt as if I needed the world to see a "me" that I thought they would want to see rather than the me God had made me to be.
It's so very difficult to take a real look at ourselves and to see exactly what God sees. For us to see the grace God gives us on a daily, minute-by-minute basis, for who he made us to be. It's hard to hear his words from Luke 12:7, "Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." It's hard to believe that God loves us so much that he would count each hair, or bald head, and find us, "... more precious than jewels" (Proverbs 3:15, CSB). Some versions even use the words more precious than rubies and diamonds. Pride is such an awful consequence of our sinful world. And sadly, as human beings, it is so very hard not to become prideful in so many ways. I am included in this as well, I think everyone is. When I first became an elementary school administrator I took a job in a very, very small town in Nevada that had had the same administrator for years. At this time, I was sure I was going to bust in their and change the current state of education in that town. I knew I had great ideas, successful outcomes at other schools, and kids loved me. I was sure they would love the heck out of me and we would ride the wave of great success in educating students. NOPE, didn't happen. They hated me. Well, maybe that is a strong word, but I was so puffed up walking in there, and they saw right through it. Proverb 29:23 reads, "Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor." Humiliation is what I got. Lost that job halfway through my second year and was given A LOT of time to think on what had gone wrong and to reflect on what God wanted me to do instead. I really see God's grace in this whole situation because he shared with me what he saw that I did well and what I needed to work on. He gave me planning time to begin to develop my philosophy as an administrator that was in line with his Word. He spoke to me as I struggled with my identity in education, which is not where my identity was to lay. God helped me see that my identity was in Him and my way to bring this into the hurting world of education was to become an administrator that He wanted me to be, not what my pride thought I should be. The other great thing about God and his great grace is that, just today, while righting this blog, I received a phone call from the administrator that replaced me as I retired last school year. He wanted to tell me about the great foundation I laid at the school and the amazing teachers who taught there that truly, outwardly, and in everything the did, loved kids. My philosophy was LOVE, and that is where I can be proud. I can be proud for doing what God asked me to do and give all the praises to him, rather than having pride in what "I" did. God is great at validating what we do through his ways and his Holy Spirit. He doesn't need for us to find ways to be validated, or expect that we should be rewarded for our work.
So, what is the best way for us to hear from God's Holy Spirit and to see his grace when we find ourselves living a prideful life? I would like to suggest these things:
Confess - God already knows that we are behaving and thinking this way. He will show us his grace in this area, but he first needs us to see it and admit it to him and ask for his forgiveness. Once we do this, He will not think about it again, and neither should we. We should take his forgiveness and begin to change our thoughts and feelings to be more like his and ask for the Holy Spirit to remain in our lives and to speak to us when we begin to feel this way again. Believe me, you will feel unhealthy pride again.
Ask God to show us where we need to change - Be open to what God brings to you when you ask him to show you areas of change and growth. If you ask him, he will show you and you may not like what you see. But, you asked! Continue to ask!
Understand that you will never be able to measure up to this world and its standards - The only standards you need to measure up to are God's. Believe me, he doesn't care what you hair looks like, what kind of car you drive, what awards you have won. He rejoices for you each time you behave like he asks you to. He cheers each time you have completed something that He has asked you to do. He throughs a party each time someone comes to him because of your faithfulness. Do things that make Him cheer, not to receive accolades from the world.
Accept His free gift of grace - Do not continue to believe that you can only receive his grace through your works. His grace is free. Unmerited. You will never, ever be able to earn it so stop trying. Allow yourself to feel his grace everyday, because He wants to give it to you.
God's grace will also give you the courage to continue the journey in life where we so want to be acknowledge by the world. His grace will cover your sins every time you fall and and begin to feel you deserve something because you did something that you think is great. His grace will come through forgiveness that will set you free from wants and desires of this world. Fall on His grace for the pats on the back that you are searching for.
Now, grab yourself some coffee, mine is a simple brew with a little half-and-half, since I am at home in my sweatpants and messy ponytail, and ask God for forgiveness for your pridefulness and accept His grace and allow yourself to move on and begin to show the world how great our God is, rather than how great we are.