My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Where pride will take us ...

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant, than pretend to be a somebody and have no food.
Proverbs 12, 9

How important is it for us to look good in the eyes of others? I want others to have a positive image of me. That in itself may not be the problem. The problem starts when I want others to have a positive image of me that does not mirror the reality of me.
We desire other people to like us or praise us or even to admire us – actually what we make them think we are. Because so often, we just cannot believe that people could really, I mean REALLY, like us just the way we honestly are. Or could they? Well, God does...we think and although we know that that should be enough for us, really often it just is not. We long for unconditional love and acceptance. But we have problems accepting it. And if we already have problems accepting God’s unconditional love for us – which is real – than it is no big surprise that we cannot believe that other humans really love or accept us the way we are. So we strive to be real, but start to put on the “perfect” front for others. And this is furthered by our pride. Pride in our accomplishments, pride in our looks, pride in our status... Pride is the root of sin, so I’ve read in a book about humility. Pride leads to dishonesty, to lies, to covetness ...

So there we are, in our need and longing for love and acceptance and supported by pride working in us, we worked up a certain image people have of us that we pretty much like. Just name it, it can be lots of different things for different people: high level of spiritual maturity, success in jobs, success in family, knowing all those important people, wealth, tons of friends, ...
And then, it collapses before our very eyes. There can be many reasons for the break-down. My question is: How do we deal with it? I’m talking about a scenario where it is not obvious to others what happened, but we seriously need help. But if we ask for help, the “perfect” image we built up for others to see, will be shattered. Gone.
There are then two possibilities: to humble ourselves, to be honest, to tear down the false image with our own hands – and to hopefully get help. (And trust me, from caring friends, we will receive help). Or to cling to that image that is so dear to us, that maybe became our second skin – and receive no help. To put it with the words of the verse from proverbs: to have no food.

The first option is hard to us. Even though as Christians we know this is what we should do. We are called to carry each other and also each others burdens. Christ humbled himself for us. It is hard to realize that we are not the perfect nice-guy person that is so successful and spiritually mature. Sometimes we hardly want to confess it before God, far less before our brothers and sisters. But this is the way to freedom, to healing and to Christian love between fellow believers and friends.
The other option leads to starvation. It leads to spiritual starvation and in a bad-case scenario it will actually lead to physical starvation. But there are people and there are Christians who are rather willing to starve than to have others realize who they really are. Who expect God to work a miracle rather than having to show others their problems. This results in bitterness and drives them farther away – from others and from God.
So we have to ask ourselves this question again and again: where do we (consciously or unconsciously) allow pride in our lives and how far do we let it take us?