The beast that rears its ugly head. You beat it down, but it seems to be always there- waiting for that weak moment when it can creep in and attack.
Image via Wikipedia
I was talking with a friend months ago, but I still remember this conversation and appropriately cringe when I remember how I acted. We were talking about a mutual friend and how disciplined she is about running. She was being very complimentary and sweet- but I was feeling frustrated. For years I have been a consistent runner and stayed in good shape, but lately I have been carrying some extra weight and can’t seem to get motivated to get it off.
So before I knew what I was doing, I had hijacked the conversation and was talking about myself and how I really am a disciplined runner- I am just going through a “dry spell” – I started talking about all my major life changes because in my mind I was thinking- if this other Mom had gone through all I have gone through there is no way she would still be consistently running.
I look back on this conversation now and think only one thing- that was pride. My pride took a big hit because someone else was getting praise I was used to hearing. So many people praised me in the past for my discipline and consistency with working out- and it bothered me that someone else was being praised (and rightly so) for doing the same thing- but I wasn’t receiving that praise.
I look back on this conversation with embarrassment because it is so obvious to me that my motivations were selfish- I took over that conversation and guided it down a road that was not beneficial to me or this other Mom that I was just getting to know.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.
When I am with a group of Moms and we are all talking, I often reflect back on what I said and why I said it- I think it is the recovering perfectionist in me- I tend to examine whole conversations after the fact.
Does anyone else do this? I hope I am not the only one….anyway, so I got to thinking one day.
Why do we talk- what guides us in what we bring up in conversation, what prompts us to speak?
I started thinking about my motivations- not just what I was saying, but the heart behind it. And honestly, a lot of what I observed about myself I didn’t like so much. When I had a clever or interesting thought- I liked to share. Yes, at times I was also thinking about bringing something new to light about the conversation- but there was a critical thing that was absent.
I was not usually thinking about what someone else was sharing- and reflecting on that with them- or maybe considering asking them a question to encourage them to elaborate.
Am I just spending every conversation waiting for my turn to talk- to turn the attention toward me?
Being a good listener takes work. I know this, from my education background and experience. And don’t we all love talking to someone who lets us know by the questions they ask and their nonverbal ques that they are actively paying attention to and interested in what we have to say?
I think it is a subtle form of pride that derails conversations and ends up leaving both persons disappointed. Though you were together- you both leave feeling like you were not truly heard and understood- there was no point of deep connection.
I believe we are all longing for that- looking for it- praying for it. To be heard and seen and accepted as we are. God is faithfully doing that every day- and we need Him first and foremost- but we also need the support of the body of believers- friends who can hold us accountable and encourage us.
James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5 both reference a quote “God opposes the proud but gives favor to the humble.” This is from Proverbs 3:34- which says- He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
If you have some time today- it will only take 5 minutes- read Proverbs 3 slowly and think about it. It is rich with wisdom about living a Godly life- and was very convicting to me today.
I pray that God will teach us humility- that we may work each day to boast only in the Lord (Jer. 9:24).
And also that sometime this week, I will make a conscious effort to be a good listener- to ask questions- to take time to empty myself of pride and concern myself with someone else first. One step at a time….