Hard to Swallow

For Christmas, my parents gave me a jar filled with over six hundred small slips of paper written with conversation and writing prompts. This is the one of my responses:

It’s not about me.

It’s about the kids.

It’s about relationships.

It’s about the Gospel.

When I do something I don’t want to do, those are the reasons that I do it. I can learn to do things that I hate to do, or things I don’t like, or things that annoy me, or things that simply do not interest me when I remember that it is not about me.

My pride would like to say that it is, in fact, at least a little bit, about me. I would like to be thanked once in a while for things that I do. I think it is a human instinct to want praise and thanks and notice for the things that we do. Why else do we celebrate awards and honors and celebrity?

When I swallow my pride… by the way, have you ever considered that phrase before? To swallow one’s pride, in some way that means that it becomes part of you. Or maybe the idea is from someone about to vomit, but swallows it back down. Is pride like vomit? Sometimes it might be. But then the metaphor would break down, because sometimes the best thing to do is to just get it out. Yeah. Sorry. That was gross. But pride can be extremely gross.

Perhaps we should think more along the lines of the advice of the writer of Hebrews, who tells us to throw off and away what hinders, so that we can continue on our journey. I’m paraphrasing of course, but still, don’t we move through the world better if we don’t have the hoop skirt, sombrero, and stiletto heels of pride mucking up our ability to move?

I move a lot better barefoot than in heels for sure.

Perhaps that is what I am supposed to do, then. Kick off the stiletto heels of pride, and begin to walk in a normal way, a path of humility, a journey of service.

I’m not only talking about doing something that I just want to put off, sometimes I do stuff that makes my skin crawl. It is those times that I need the most strength. Sometimes there is nothing else I can put off but doing the very thing that I don’t want to do. Even if it is something necessary, or beneficial, or who knows what… if I don’t want to do it, I really will dig in to the trenches and keep from it as much as possible. Sometimes that makes it worse, putting off like that, so that it ends up taking a violent chunk out of me, rendering me weak and unsure.

But, if it was about my pride, and putting my pride aside, then even if I am left with less than I had at the beginning, the point is not about what I have, but what others have gained. In a perfect world, then the sacrifice of my pride would not hurt so much. Heck, in a perfect world, we might not even know what pride is. But in this world, we do. And pride divides us as people, and as friends. We let it have more power than it should have. And we suffer for it.

When I set my pride away, when I decide that I am stronger than my pride, I claim something greater than pride. I claim honor. I just have to be careful about that honor… I might let it get to my head… and be proud of it.

I claim the honor of someone greater than I. And all the pride melts away.

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