Struggles in life are real. They can be emotionally and physically draining. But what about those struggles we cause ourselves? Those times when we insist on arguing to prove our point. Those times when we are blind to the pain our actions are causing another? Those times when we are deaf to the critical and belittling tone in our voice? What is the root behind those struggles? Can we honestly blame it on someone else? Or would we be better off turning the mirror towards ourselves and taking a good long look at who we really are on the inside? Are we able to see pride and arrogance lurking in the corner of our hearts, just waiting for an opportunity to scoot out the door?
I sometimes think about all of the crazy stuff I’ve been through in my life and wonder how in the world I managed to get through it without a padded cell and heavy medication. I look back with regret knowing how pride and arrogance negatively affected my behavior and my choices – oftentimes to the detriment of others whom I love dearly.
Pride and arrogance manifest themselves in many various ways. For me it is often an unreasonable need to be right, even when I’m wrong – and a stubborn inability to admit when I’m wrong. Some folks blame others for their mistakes rather than admitting they were wrong. There are some who tend to see themselves as better and more knowledgeable, and treat folks who are still learning as if they are stupid. Some become boastful and turn every conversation back towards themselves and their accomplishments, and still others carry such bitterness from past hurts that they are simply incapable of looking back to even consider that they too had fault in whatever happened.
I’m still coping with the damage those nasty traits caused in my life, and I still have regrets when I allow myself to look in the rear view mirror. I still struggle to suppress these tendencies and fail more often than I care to admit.
Thankfully I am learning to recognize more quickly that I have allowed pridefulness or arrogance to affect my responses and actions. I’m learning to avoid situations that might lead me to become prideful or arrogant. More importantly, the shame and disappointment I feel when I behave this way has taught me to quickly seek forgiveness both from God and the person I wronged.
God created us to be completely dependent upon Him, to trust Him for all of our needs, and to love Him above everything else. When we do this, we have a spirit of humility in everything we do. We understand that everything we have, everything we know is because God provided for us. He provided the skills, the knowledge and the ability for every accomplishment we have ever made.
The Apostle Paul asks us, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) Pride is us depending on ourselves, trusting our knowledge and loving ourselves more than God. Arrogance is us believing the lie that we don’t need help from God or anyone else. Together these tendencies amount to self-worship, placing ourselves before God, idolizing ourselves.
I think we forget that without God we really are nothing more than the dust from which we were created. What we say or feel about ourselves means nothing – it is what God says about us that we should ultimately care about.
So let me stop right here and seek forgiveness from my husband, my children, my parents, my sister and my friends for any time I have been arrogant or prideful towards you. I do not know more than you, I am not better than you. You have knowledge that may be helpful for me; you are worthy of respect and appreciation. Your opinions and feelings matter. Please forgive me for any hurt I have caused you and know that I love you deeply.
I am learning how destructive pride can be in my life and relationships, and I know that I will continue to battle this tendency for as long as I walk this earth. I also know that with God’s grace I will battle it less and less. I am putting my trust and faith in Him.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 NIV