The problem with Pride

AGE 6

I remember it well, it was my birthday. My Mum had put on a party for me at the house, baked me a cake, had my friends round, and we played pass the parcel. For some reason, my girl gang and I were in the front hall. It was a narrow hall, but all the focus was on me. I stood on the hall radiator and leant over and balanced on the wall as I chatted with my friends. My Dad came down the hall and said, “don’t stand on the radiator.” I rolled my eyes and giggled and continued to stand. Within moments, I heard the crack and bright orange water came pouring out of the pipe over the carpet. Dad lost his cool and I got my face reddened good and proper in front of my gang; my party ended in tears!

AGE 10

My chore was loading the dish washer which was no more than ten steps from the kitchen bench. I didn’t want to walk back and forward twenty times with all the dishes so I piled them up with the idea of making one trip, one brown Pyrex bowl balanced on top. My Dad said, “Terri you are going to drop that.” I ignored his advice and carried on. Low and behold, the bowl fell off the top of the pile and smashed.

AGE 15

You need to put time in studying for your exams or you will not pass and these exams are important, you will need them in adult life. Ok sure, as I set off to my room to read Smash Hits beneath the cover of my lever ache file…. and guess what, I didn’t study and I didn’t pass.

fast forward

Age 32

The Bible says… ( my Heavenly Father says)

“My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry,”
‭‭James (Jacob)‬ ‭1:19‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I say… yes, yes that’s all well and good, but you don’t understand how much they hurt me. So my anger is justified, and so is my judgement. They deserve exactly what they receive from me because they are in the wrong.

Age 36

The Bible says… (My heavenly father says)

“If your fellow believer sins against you, you must go to that one privately and attempt to resolve the matter. If he responds, your relationship is restored. But if his heart is closed to you, then go to him again, taking one or two others with you. You’ll be fulfilling what the Scripture teaches when it says, ‘Every word may be verified by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ And if he refuses to listen, then share the issue with the entire church in hopes of restoration. If he still refuses to respond, disregarding the fellowship of his church family, you must disregard him as though he were an outsider, on the same level as an unrepentant sinner.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I think … I should chat amongst my friends first, see who will agree with me that they are in the wrong, my hurt is justified. and my anger righteous. Then I can get some other view points and from there I will decide if I will go to them or just never speak to the person again.

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out the last two scenarios end the with the same disastrous results as the first few, with permanent damage and consequences that could have been avoided. I always saw this as just disobedience, stupidity even. What i’ve been learning over this past few days is that actually this is what is called pride. It is believing you know better, your way is better. I’ve done it my whole life, with my parents, with my friends, with my leaders, with authority, with God. I have placed myself above them time and time again, and I haven’t taken their advice, wisdom and guidance, and I have believed that my way was better… which maybe doesn’t seem like such a big deal here on earth, but what does it look like in Kingdom??

It looks like… I know better than you, God- Sir, Master, Creator, King of the universe, life giver to all things with breath.

It looks like… booting God off his throne as King of your heart, and putting your best selfie there.

It looks like… looking at your reflection and seeing a crown on your head and believing you put it there yourself.

It looks like… Big trouble.

Pride comes before the Fall

Pride is a powerful weapon of the enemy. We see it right back at the beginning, the very tool with which he convinced the perfect couple, with the perfect home, with the perfect family that they could be equal with God. And we all know the consequences we live with today because of that mindset.

Let’s not fall today, let’s seek God to address any pride lurking in our heart. He is ready and willing to help root it out and replace it with whole hearted surrender.

C. S. Lewis put it this way in Mere Christianity.

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. . . . This process of surrender…is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. . . . It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

Break through Bitterness

Joyce Meyer says …

“I know from personal experience how damaging it can be to live with bitterness and unforgiveness. I like to say it’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. And it really is that harmful to us to live this way.“

Honestly I think, besides healing past hurts, learning that I had control over the bitterness I carried in my heart has probably been the single most freeing revelation of my Christian journey to date.

I carried such a chip around I resembled Quasimodo. I had been hurt, people let me down, people betrayed me, people abandoned me, circumstances damaged me. I had a big, fat, dirty chip on my shoulder and the world knew it, and I was fine that they did. That chip entitled me to rage, outbursts, rudeness, defence, don’t even come at me. I was like a bull terrier coming back at you. I would have fought with my shadow if I thought she was staring at me the wrong way. People had hurt me and that gave me the right to hurt others. It was always me against a big bad world. I was like a tornado, I would destroy anything that stood in my way, but the only thing I was really wrecking was myself.

Until I wasn’t

I had been working through a discipleship program at my church; the programme had been ploughing through my past, uprooting everything in its path from my past. Every week a new obstacle to overcome. God was breaking things off me left, right and centre. This was life changing. If only I had learnt these tools many years ago, it would have saved me a lot of pain.

Learning how people treated me was on them and not me, learning that forgiveness is a process and not a one-time done deal, but should start with the desire to want to forgive, learning that I had a choice to carry unforgiveness or give it back to God, learning I had a choice not to let my past dictate my future. The study was jammed packed with breakthrough.

Over many heart wrenching, tear stained weeks, I learnt to work through and let go of a lot of the bitterness that I’d been carrying almost all of my life. The poison I’d been drinking for years, intended for other people.

I’ll not deny it, letting go of bitterness is a tough process, but not as tough as slogging a heavy backpack of bitterness around. Learning that my Jesus hung on the cross to take this extra burden from me was such a breakthrough moment. Learning I had a choice every day to decide if I was going to believe what my God said about me, or what my circumstances said about me. Learning that I had a choice to decide if God would dictate my future, or my circumstances.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Truthfully, a few years on, it’s not always the most natural or obvious choice, because sometimes I do allow bitterness to creep back into my heart, but the difference now is I keep a short account of my bitterness. I might let it in, but I don’t let it set up camp anymore.

I get to choose to forgive someone even without an apology.

I get to choose not to be offended by rudeness or arrogance or disrespect.

I get to choose who I allow to influence my life and speak into it.

I get to choose to seek out what God says about me instead of what my situation says.

I get to choose to stay quiet and calm when being attacked, knowing that it’s enough that God knows the truth.

I get to choose every day if my life is going to reflect God at work in me, or my circumstance working through me.

And on the good days, which are thankfully more often than bad, but not always because I’m a work in progress, on these days, I remember I can make these choices. I’m at my best, my happiest, my freest. On these days, I’m calm. I can turn from confrontation, have more love and compassion for others, I can forgive easier, show grace quicker, readily let offence slide off. On these days, I feel closer to God, I hear him a bit more clearly, sing a wee bit louder and be a whole lot more thankful.

For me, this was knowledge I wanted to drill into my boys in the hope that it would teach them to let go of anger quickly, and address bitterness before it could take root, and hopefully save them years of confrontations and outbursts like their muma.

I would say to:

He makes me so angry…. no he isn’t that powerful, that’s in your control.

He made me hit him…. again, nobody can make you do anything, that’s your choice.

Offence is a choice, harbouring anger is a choice, forgiveness is a choice.

Choose Forgiveness, Bin Bitterness..

And if you don’t know how or where to start, just ask God to help, even if your prayer has to start with, Lord help me WANT to forgive this person. Pray it every day. God will put that desire in your heart, then you can pray, Lord help me forgive this person. And then it might be a done deal, or maybe you will have to revisit that hurt over and over again and be prompted to cry out every time, Lord help me to forgive. If you keep turning to God every time you have to face that pain, eventually there will be a day when you are face to face with that pain and it just doesn’t hurt anymore. Forgiveness is not acceptance forgiveness is FREEDOM.

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Big Why?

My youngest son considers himself quite the comedian, quite often his amused audience consists of one person… himself! Although that doesn’t seem to hinder his enthusiasm in any way. His method of entertainment often comes in the form of mild torture and the reaction it achieves. Now, without making him sound all dark and demonised, because he is actually a very bright light in the world, what I mean, as we might say in Northern Ireland, he loves the banter, winding up! It’s all light hearted and fun, well, most of the time. Sometimes he will push it too far, but is usually wise enough to know when he has reached his limit and will loveingly redeem with adequate affection. You know the type, a class clown really, and if I’m honest an apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree. Like he had to get it from somewhere, right!

He recently got a phone, well actually he has had a phone for probably a year now, what he has got now is a friends contact list and WhatsApp. Now he has turned into a bit of a spammer. I roll my eyes at his amusement as he is kicked off another group chat.

Sadly, for his brothers and me, we can not so easily dismiss his playful torture.

A few day ago his pestilence came in the form of why, why, why, why, why, why.

This I can except from a curious toddler, but from an annoying preteen my patience wore a little thin. Mostly because I believed I could out play him at his own game by giving him a suitable answer for each of his why. I’d love to say my reason for this was love, to show him that he mattered, that he was heard, his questions were important to me but, honestly, I just wanted to beat the nuisance outta him.

My patience wore way too quickly and, on about the fifth why, I caved and with a louder, more forceful voice said, “because Mummy said so, now away on and give my head peace.

He had won, he had the victory! With a playful giggle and a knowing smile, he said, “alright Mum, calm down, I was only asking.” He skipped off in victory, probably to pick his next victim. I shook my head in defeat knowing he had got me, but mostly relieved to have peace and to get back to what I was doing. He’d be a hard kid not to love with his playful nature.

Today, as he corrected my stupidity for sending an emoji of an American football instead of a rugby ball, more of his playful banter. I thought back to the why episode, and my thoughts led me to thinking about God and the different, far more serious whys I have asked him over the years. Then an even bigger thought rose in my mind about all the whys I hadn’t ask him, and why I didn’t ask them.

It got me thinking about this nature that when we become adults we suddenly stop asking why, or how for that matter. It’s like, given our years on planet earth, we should have accumulated all the wisdom and knowledge that we will ever need and we no longer need to ask why or how. It can’t be true or we would all be millionaire geniuses.

But for some reason our culture has taught us that there is a certain amount of shame found in not knowing. Well I think culture is a liar, there is no shame in not knowing. In fact, the only way to grow in wisdom and knowledge is by not knowing and asking why or how.

Personally, I don’t think I ask it enough to God… mostly probably because of this false belief that you can only go to God with the big stuff. It’s not true, but somewhere deep down in my soul resides the false narritive that God is too big to be bothered with my smaller stuff.

If my kids only came to me with the big stuff we wouldn’t have much of a relationship. Mum, I’m really sick, I need to go to the hospital. Mum, I have no money, I need you to pay, Mum, I got in trouble, I need you to fix it. I would want to know how that they were sick, where their money went and what excatly was the cause of their trouble. This would involve a lot more communication than one request at a time.

The same goes for our relationship with our Father God, but the difference being he has all the answers, all the solutions to all our questions, and his patience is not going to wear thin like mine did to all my boy’s whys.

But, even better than God asking us why, we can ask him why and not just the big things, like why does that baby have cancer, and why doesn’t God just wipe out all the baddies, and why did I not get my dream job?

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We have access to God 24/7 and, I can promise you, there is no why or how too big or small for God. Why am I in such bad mood? Why did I react so badly to that situation? Why does this situation break my heart so badly? Why can’t I stop thinking about this person? Why do I struggle to concentrate when reading? Why do I feel so silly when I pray aloud? Why do I feel so guilty? Why can’t I let go of this shame? Why do I struggle to like this person? Why do I need to go to church if you’re in my house? Why do so many people journal yet I find it boring? Why do I feel like I have no purpose when I’m a Christian and meant to be filled with purpose? … this lists goes on and on!

So you may think, ha ha, good one, that’s all well and good for those who hear and know God’s voice, but I don’t. But knowing and recognising God is built through communication of the whys to God and the whys from God.

You start asking questions, and I’m certain, if the answers don’t come from an audible God’s voice, they will coming in another form, in a dream perhaps, in a knowing in your heart and a random conversation, through a podcast in a song, READING GOD’S WORD.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God is so desperate for an intimate relationship with us that he will answer your questions and he will do that in many different ways, it is up to us to have the open heart to receive his answers and acknowledge that when they come it was God. The more we acknowledge God, the more we build our relationship, and so on and so forth.

Today I want to encourage you to take your whys, your not knowing, to God and have an expectant heart, ready to receive a reply. Be open and expectant and then acknowledge in the, “I know that was you God,” and build on that two way relationship and grow your understanding of God’s nature and heart for you.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬