The other day I slid into the driver seat of my new car with a dear friend and coworker in the passenger side. We were getting on the road when she said to me, “I love your car! And I love your house! So new, so pretty… I’m so jealous.” I felt shocked. Nervous. Ashamed.
My Father has been teaching me about pride lately, and how so much of my character is plagued by it. Pride has taken over so much of my life. It has taken my relationships hostage. It has blinded my heart and construed my idea of what it looks like to have compassion. When my friend made this comment about my car and home, it was like she opened up this secret window of her soul, into which I could look deeply and see myself.
As a child, I burned with envy. It’s like I lived in the same neighborhood as Happiness, and Contentment, and Enough, but they all lived just down the other end of my street. Contentment lived in the back, in the newer part of the neighborhood, with the cookie cutter houses, new cars, and the lush green lawns. Happiness lived in the family that wasn’t broken by divorce. And Enough lived in the seams of the Hollister and Abercrombie clothes we couldn’t afford. Comparison ate away at my childish spirit. This discontentment grew as I did, and it led me to do anything and everything I could to flee that place. As soon as I graduated high school, I left my small-town home in a cloud of dust behind me, hoping to never look back. I was going to change everything, and work as hard as possible to forget, and create the life I longed for.
But I look back all the time.
In order to understand this life, and become attuned with the woman I’ve become, I don’t have a choice but to look back and remember where I’ve been, where I come from. In order to escape the grips of a discontented spirit, and yet keep myself from running into the seemingly comfortable arms of pride and excess, I have to look back.
Today, I have all of the things I longed for as a young girl. I live in a beautifully renovated home, in an affluent part of town. My lawn is tend to every week, and I recently bought a new car. I turn my cheek from the memory of my parent’s divorce and the brokenness of our family, and strive for healthier relationships. And my closet is filled with trendy clothes that I like. And yet, none of it matters. All these material things just stand as proof of the pride that has destroyed other parts of my life. For the last three years I have become consumed by pride. I pride myself on my busy schedule and my hard work ethic, to which I often credit this new life. And I have neglected the people that have truly gotten me to where I am today. Pride has infected my relationships with my family, whom I once blamed for my envious heart and discontent. And pride has kept me from extending true and honest compassion to others. Pride has written off any possibility for forgiveness. And facing this reality completely breaks me.
When my friend made this comment to me, I was so scared that my new life was causing her to feel the same discontentment I felt as a girl. It brought me back to my roots. It made me sick. In a huge way it humbled me. I’ve never wanted to rise up envy in another human, I believe that to be one of the greatest and most personal offenses, though I think it is most times unintentional.
This was never what I intended, and I am so thankful for grace.
I write this blog in hopes that you will keep me accountable. I write this blog to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for placing blame where it was not deserved. I’m sorry for shutting people out. And I write this blog as a way to say thank you. Thank you to all the people who have loved me despite my prideful heart. Thank you for blessing me, and teaching me. Thank you for extending grace. And ultimately, I write this in hopes that it might shed light onto the devastating power pride can have over us, and provoke you to seek humility at all cost.