Outing Myself. Out from Undercover Again


Stubborn pride.

It’s an apt phrase.

There is something dug in about arrogance like pet urine you think you’ve cleaned until a damp day when suddenly it’s all you can smell.

Or like a weed you’ve researched, identified, cut down, uprooted, poisoned, and plowed that reappears despite your frantic stabs with the hoe, the pick-ax and the flamethrower you borrowed from the Green Beret who lives next door.

Prides scuttles through your character like squirrels nesting in your walls, breeding, eating, scratching in the dark crevices beyond your reach but not beyond your hearing, your knowing, your despair.

Writers should write what we know, so for a few posts, I will write about sin.

Not general sin, but particular sin.

I sin.

Not just in general, like mentioning that I’m not perfect or that I make mistakes or that I inherited the same original bent toward selfish choices as Grandma Eve, no, I don’t just sin in general, I sin in specific.

I frequently open the doors of my soul and host pride for month-long sojourns. It’s not so much like a dinner party as it is like an infestation of bedbugs, cockroaches, scabies and lice. It’s a condition that can be addressed but not without a wholesale cleaning, not without persistent effort and maddening, meticulous attention to detail.

Usually laziness accompanies pride on these visits and so the oppression lingers until it becomes so obvious, unpleasant, and offensive that I drag myself off the couch of my spirit and pull out the fine-tooth comb of scripture and the prescriptive elixir of confessional prayer. It is then that the work begins – not my work but the effective and thorough work of the Holy Spirit.

And God marches me over to His mirror and shows me the ugliness of a woman who thinks she’s better than everyone else, who thinks that arrogance is something she only sees in other people.

A woman wearing pride like a burqa, the mandatory garb of all who worship at the altar of self. The eyes peering out from behind the imprisoning veil are panicked as my hands clutch at the protective cloth on which I’ve come to rely but God will have none of it.

He quotes to me from His own book and says with great drama and effect as He removes the costume of false religious pride, “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” Proverbs 26:12 And He tosses the fine linen of my arrogance aside like the dirty rag that it is.

Exposed, I cringe at the sight of a soul starved for light, anemic from a diet of ego and lies, scrambling like a hairless, albino cat caught outside at noon. My natural Edenic instinct is to hide in the bushes and blame someone else for my condition but then my new nature whispers the truth.

I am proud. I am arrogant. I have focused on self at the expense of others and the result is strife, depression, and the familiar stench of self-importance, an odor as obvious as a rotting corpse.

How many times have I been at this same mirror? How many times has He lovingly freed me from my pride only to watch me crawl across the floor and wrap myself in it again out of fear and a lack of trust in His way of doing life?

I would collapse in despair if He weren’t standing there with the antidote.

Jesus.

Standing beside the Son of God, my brother, my King – pride dissipates like a drop of water on a hot grill, shrivels like a snail sprinkled with salt, withers and curls with a haunting whistle like a plastic cup tossed into a campfire.

Remain beside Jesus and when pride is removed from my bones I find it was not an element required for me to remain upright, to stand tall. It was not the thing keeping me from folding in on myself. It was a crippling impediment that forced me to walk stiff-jointed, unyielding, and lame. Suddenly I can see beyond my own needs, hear what others are saying, kneel to serve others and to pray.

God heals me with these words: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-8

And as I drink the antidote, not only does my burqa fly off on a wind sent by the Holy Spirit but the evil one scurries out the door like a rat abandoning a ship about to sink beneath the living water of Jesus.

I sin, specifically. I am prideful, arrogant, self-important, and concerned only with me.

But Jesus died specifically, for me. God loves specifically, me, even in my sin. And the Holy Spirit enters, specifically, my heart and mind to convict, to forgive, to bring repentance, healing, and hope.

~ Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real ~ Thomas Merton

True that.

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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. I once heard a pastor’s wife say “pride is like bad breath. Everybody knows you have it but you.” I’ve never forgotten that one!

    Thank you for your transparency!

  2. That is us in a nutshell. Thanks for the transparency. Checking the mirror myself today.

  3. Pride. It’s something easy to overlook when we’re always criticizing other people, and looking only at our accomplishments. That’s why it’s important to have others to show us the truth and hold us accountable.