They say the first step to resolving a problem is admitting there is one. With the little bit of wisdom I’ve obtained over the years, I realize so much of my sin is a result of pride (first step.) From the smallest piece of gossip to the largest thoughts of envy. From thinking I am in control to wishing my life away. All of these behaviors and more boil down to a lack of humility. Wanting to be the center of attention, the one everybody loves and approves of, can all be ways of falling into pride.
We Americans are naturally a prideful people. Plus we are bombarded with messages in school, advertising, movies, the workplace constantly telling us to be Number One, climb the ladder, do whatever makes us happy, win at any cost, strive for fame, look the best, own the best, be the best. Admittedly, not all pride is sinful. But if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s so much more difficult to react to situations with humility than pride!Even in my relationship with my husband, I find myself reacting to disagreements with the goal of proving I’m right! Then I remember hearing “Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?” You could also phrase it for any situation, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” That doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead. Being humble doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you realize that compromise or “agreeing to disagree” is the wiser and more prudent way to handle times of disagreement.
A few years ago, I was honored with supporting a retreat team as spiritual director. In order to keep myself in check, and keep us all focused on the task at hand, I used the mantra “It’s all about Him.” Whenever we thought we had to have an amazing menu of food, or had to have creative and beautiful decorations, when we worried about music or timing or staffing, remembering we had to rely on the Holy Spirit and that “It’s all about Him” put things back in perspective. To this day, when I find myself fretting or feeling hurt, wanting to be right or deflecting blame, I repeat that mantra. It’s hard to be prideful with that thought in mind.
Worrying about what other people think seems to be most prevalent in us females, although I know a few men with the same insecurity. We spend so much time thinking about ourselves, how can we possibly focus on the needs of others? As Dale Carnegie wrote: “People are not thinking about you and me or caring what is said about us, they are thinking about themselves — before breakfast, after breakfast, and right on until 10 minutes past midnight.” We need to realize what other people think is not important (they aren’t thinking about us anyway). True humility is found in taking our eyes off ourselves and looking for ways to serve others.
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8
My husband’s spiritual director recommended the following prayer and he passed it along to me. The first time I read it, I cried. Seriously, how could I ever begin to live up to any of these requests for humility? My initial reaction was to just dismiss it and give up. That was my pride – me in charge! Instead, I taped it up to my bathroom mirror. I was right; there is no way for me to live up to any of these on my own. However, I pray this every morning with the assurance that God will give me the grace to achieve what I can and the forgiveness for what I cannot.