As you probably know, if you are here, I am currently doing the online Bible study over at Proverbs 31 Ministries, hosted by Melissa Taylor - Stressed Less Living by Tracie Miles. As I have said before, sometimes, a book study doesn't meet me where I am at. This one, on the other hand, I think was MADE for me!
One of the choices this week is writing about the stumbling block of pride. This is a big one for me. Again, a topic that seems to have been designed to help me with a challenge.
When I think of pride, I tend to think of it as a kind of arrogance. It's that boastful, confident, always-thinking-one's-right attitude. I don't think I have that. I've come to realise in recent years, though, that I suffer from another kind of pride and I think that's a bit like something Tracie was talking about in chapter 5. My pride isn't the kind that's arrogant, mine is the kind that won't let me take risks because I already feel not good enough and I'm afraid of looking stupid. My mistakes are more unforgiveable, while other people don't need to be perfect, I do. It's such a destructive way for me to approach my life.
I don't know where it came from. I grew up in a home where I would say that we had a sense of unconditional love and my parents didn't put a lot of pressure on us. Somehow, though, I still absorbed the message from somewhere that I am not good enough. I have this overwhelming sense of not being inferior. It's funny, those things that were supposed to make me feel better about myself (e.g., awards at school, academic success, being called "gifted"), just made me feel more inadequate. I get an award and I feel like I don't deserve it. I get praise and I feel embarrassed and yet, when I don't get praise, I feel even worse. I've spent most of my adult life feeling not smart enough, not outgoing enough, not popular enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not a good enough mother...It's a never ending cycle of trying to be perfect to prove that I'm good enough and then feeling like I have failed and it's really had a horrible impact on my life.
Really, when I think about it, the arrogance of it is astounding. I allow other people to make mistakes, I tell other people that they can't do it all and that sometimes, we need to accept help. I lecture my students all the time about how mistakes are part of the learning process and yet, I don't see them that way myself, I see them only as failure. Forgiveness is a bit the same. I honestly do believe that God forgives me and yet, I have things that I have a hard time forgiving in myself. Seriously, I think that somehow, my standards are higher than God's? How does that work for me? I consistently set the bar higher for myself and honestly, I have to admit, that is certainly a kind of arrogance.
I don't pretend that this study will make this character flaw of mine magically go away but it is certainly making me more aware of it in myself. Already this week, I have had two occasions when I started to feel myself go into the "I have to find a way to fix this" mode and instead, I went to pray. And the result? I did feel some peace. I need to "let go and let God" (which sounds so trite but honestly, is such a simple yet important truth). Honestly, if I can tame this dragon in my life, I think the source of most of my stress will go. Please pray for me, I need it!