Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Falling Away on Pride

I can't be the only person who suffers from pride. There are times that I think I don't have to apologize because I'm right on something. Or perhaps, they've messed up more than me so they deserve no apology. Other times, it's the kind of pride that hits where I've overdone it by bragging about something in order to make myself feel better. And I know I'm not alone with being in Camp Pride.

There was an issue that I had been stewing upon at present where I was feeling a bit prideful over offering an apology to someone. I had been feeling rather ticked off by their seemingly lack of realizing their hurtful tendencies and therefore, I felt no apology should be given in return for another issue. But then one morning I awoke with the wisdom from God whispering into my heart, "Pride goes before destruction."

"Yes, Lord, I hear you! I need to make a change." And with having that pride, the first step to admitting it is awfully hard because of well...pride. Pride is too often the thing that puts the manipulation right into relationship. But trading it in for humility is a freeing way to improve upon things before it goes sour.

It's the kind of pride that keeps us from saying, "I'm sorry!" It's the pride that doesn't allow us to say, "Yes!" It's the pride that convinces us to say things by putting ourselves on pedestals in order to feel better compared to someone else. It's the pride that pushes us further from contentment in relationships, therefore leading to destruction. We feel no better about ourselves in the end when we accept pride. Those thoughts that were meant to put us higher than everyone else or to keep hold of offenses has now led us to sorrow and misery. Why would we want to accept that pride, when instead we could accept that we only need approval from Jesus? Because most of what we are truly feeling is our need for approval and acceptance from the world instead of feeling secure in Christ. With this, we should address things in humility.

And that is why Jesus is so great.

He was the most humble guy around. This is the same one born in a stable, among the lowliest places on earth. Surrounded by dung, straw, and dirty animals, he arrived. And that was to make a statement of who he was as the Son of Man. From him, we can learn to set our pride down and be forthcoming with things such as our apologies and humbleness. We learn that we don't need to strive at being the best at things when clearly Jesus was the best. He didn't wear fancy clothes, adorn himself with the very best jewelry and go around bragging about himself. He listened to others and made the case to love them even when they didn't deserve it. Additionally, we know he gave himself up for our very mistakes. And it was given to us with such grace.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Pride says to us:

"I'm easier."
"Do this and you'll be happier."
"Put yourself first."
"Say no or ignore."
"I can do no wrong."
"I'm better than everyone else."
"Why would I apologize?"

Pride convinces us that we will feel better in the end. And as said before, if we follow that tempting route, we will be led down a tumultuous path. When we choose pride, we choose ruin. When we choose humility, we choose love and the chance to better things within our relationships. And we choose Jesus being our source of freedom. When we let go of pride, we give in to improvement in our relationships and a satisfaction in knowing that only Jesus can fill the role of being enough.

Extra verses on pride to consider:
  • Proverbs 27:2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider and not your own lips.

  • Proverbs 29:23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

  • Proverbs 21:24 The proud and arrogant person - "Mocker" is his name - behaves with insolent fury.

  • Proverbs 16:5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

  • Isaiah 2:12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).

  • Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to everyone one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others better than yourself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

High Expectations

When my husband and I were first married, I would have these high expectations of him to do things. Unfortunately, I wasn't always nice about it those first few years. I wanted a very clean home, yet my husband was a clothes-behind-the-door kind of guy. When we finished using our dishes, I expected each of us to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. It would anger me when he set them on the counter next to the dishwasher (we're talking one bowl and spoon and I'd freak out). In my eyes, my counter wasn't clean enough. If he came in and set papers in a visible spot, I would grow frustrated. My expectations were too high as he was a very busy guy at the time learning how to fly new planes and going through pilot training. His schedule was very full and he had a lot going on. While I was busy as well working in the schools, I realized I was adding to the stress of our marriage by being angry over trivial things.

                                                    (Here we are as Newlyweds-2003)

Over the years, I learned about how to have more grace on him just as he learned to have more grace on me in other areas. Having our family grow in size quite a bit, I learned to let a lot of things go in the process. Perhaps, that is one of the many lessons God has taught me along the way. Now, we have seven children and as you can imagine, clean as in the way I originally dreamed in those early years of marriage is now laughable. I've definitely learned to let things go and not be so uptight.

Thinking of how far we've come with those petty arguments as we've gone along, I've learned that it's easy to expect too much from others. We are all filled with different personalities and different ideas for how things get done. Some (like me) prefer to do things right away. My husband tends to procrastinate more. Ironically, over the years, we've molded more to meeting in the middle. I've noticed that he doesn't procrastinate nearly as much. Likewise, I don't rush as often into things, though I still prefer to get to places early rather than late. (By the way, I am in search of a t-shirt that says "Always Early." 😉😉)

Bottom line, whether it's a marriage relationship, your children, a family member, or a friend, we must show grace when things don't live up to our expectations. Otherwise, we end up being upset over something they may not even realize truly affects us. And if we are on the other end of screwing up (missed birthday, forgetting to do something), we must be quick to admit fault. Perhaps, we can also explain in our relationships how that expectation is not our easiest aspect. But do try hard to be graceful on both ends and be willing to communicate our expectations as well so that we can understand each other better.

Please share down below with me! What are some of your high expectations? What do you struggle with when your expectations aren't met?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Woman of Worth

There comes a point in your life where people from your past, whether they be friends, close relationships, or even family members don't seem to follow you into your future. As someone who feels they continually reach out to keep connections, when I'm failed to be received on their end, the relationship eventually fades in the darkness. Along with that darkness comes a dark mind on my end of loneliness. I start to panic of all that I might have done wrong in those relationships to have caused these feelings deep inside.

This past year, I felt like I hit rock bottom with certain relationships among those who never responded or made any attempt to be welcoming right back. For me and my personality type (INFJ), this became very frustrating and discouraging. I started second guessing who I was as a person and how I may be coming across to them.

"Am I too nice? Do they find me too cheerful? Do I make things look too easy? Am I too positive and optimistic? Do they find my constant hand reaching out annoying? Why don't they say anything back? Do they hear me? Am I there? Did they get my texts/phone calls/emails? Why am I being ignored? Perhaps I spoke too soon on something or offended them somehow. I wonder what I did to have gotten to this point with them. What should I do now? Do I give them space? Do I keep trying? Do they even want me in their life?"

These thoughts played out in my mind so often. With some of these relationships, I've tried to stay connected through all various means only to be ignored. Being ignored by others is very hurtful to me. To say one is too busy to respond ever is entirely an excuse in my book to mean that I don't matter. As a homeschooling mother of seven with a husband who is gone quite a bit, I know the meaning of busy. But I also know the meaning of making time for those important relationships. Never do I expect perfection in responding, only some attempt on their part at some point. While I understand we all have times in our lives that get complicated or our mental situations drown us out, to be faced with years of this treatment is something else. To never once respond to someone or even allow them to know they exist is pretty hurtful. Even if I could be met with something about how they are busy, but would like to connect soon would be great to hear. However, I was met with nothing...not one word.

Over the past couple of years, I've read many self-help books, talked with people including a counselor, and even tried to make my way in understanding what was going wrong. I withdrew myself at times from things like social media so I could pray, seek God, and try to make sense of what was happening in my life. I stayed connected to those that did want to stay connected, but I took time to focus more on those relationships around me that were most important. I've been seeking friend's advice and help on certain relationships wondering what they thought and how they dealt with certain issues. At one point, I even thought I had a breakthrough moment with one of these difficult relationships only to realize we were back to square one with the not-responding technique.

What I've really taken away from all of this is that in the future, I won't be so aggressively seeking close relationships with those who don't welcome me in. I won't continue to send messages, make phone calls, or communicate with other ways unless they truly are willing to meet me halfway. I deserve to be around those who make me feel like I am worth something to them. I've learned the importance of boundaries and I'm seeking to apply them more. And I'm learning to let go of those who don't want me in their lives. Does it still hurt? The short answer is yes. Will I miss them? I will miss the good parts from the past. But in the future, I will look ahead for new opportunities with those who show love and respect in return.  For I am a woman of worth and I will surround myself with those relationships going forward that will truly matter.