Today I have been thinking a lot about PRIDE. Eww. Is that a trigger word for any of you? It sure is for me.
If I were to ask many of my closest friends if they thought I was being prideful, I honestly believe that most of them would tell me that I was as far from pride as they have ever seen me, because our current situation paints a picture of our family being bound to be: humble, submissive, brave/courageous, obedient, diligent, faithful, and patient. So where would pride even be found if we were trying to exhibit so many other amazing attributes of Christ?
Well, you would be surprised, because I sure was. I hadn’t realized how the last few weeks have been a mental battle, as well as a spiritual one. It has been so treacherous that I was literally stopped from being able to go to sleep at night. And “catching up” by sleeping in each morning has not proven to be a good idea. So, it wasn’t surprising to me when the lost hours of slept, as well as the over excursion on my mind, finally caught up with me Sunday night. This resulted in me feeling spun into the vast unknown. NOT GOOD!
While swimming through this tornado of emotions, trying to reach the eye of the storm, I asked myself 2 questions – How did I get to this point? and “How can I get out of it?” The answers were astounding! Pride and humility.
What?!?! After ALL I have been doing, how could “I” have pride? And how much more humble do I need to get?????
I was sent spinning even faster when I read a paragraph in an article, I just happened upon during my scripture study last week, that proved my answers to be true. . .
Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 18: Beware of Pride
When I read these descriptions of having enmity toward God, I felt in my heart how guilty I was of indulging in these thoughts/actions lately. I hadn’t realized that the mental battle I had been fighting was actually encouraging these ways of thinking. I was devastated to find this out. I had been tricked to take the wrong path of thinking!
When I first started this mental battle, I thought I had a right to “go through these motions” but in doing so, I only found myself becoming more and more mypoic and then becoming more and more hyper-focused on how my life is not like what I felt it should be. Then my emotions got involved and I found myself believing I shouldn’t handle what was happening to us (like having to clean mold in the RV).
These thoughts and emotions created the tornado made of doubt and fear. But how could I stop this tornado I had allowed to form? How could I escape it? Well, I did what I know works the fastest . . . I prayed. I prayed and asked for help . . . but was I willing to accept the help that came, and accept those whom came to help me?
What is the antidote to pride? Humility. I had a choice to make, several of them. This is where righteous self esteem must be practiced each and every day, or else we will constantly fear the tasks being asked of us to save us from these evil tornados. So much pre-practice that when we face our greatest fears, we are willing to walk through them because of who we are and what we want most for ourselves.
For me, I felt like I was being asked to walk across a rotting, wooden planked hanging bridge that not only has missing planks in great numbers, but the hanging bridge is hanging over an active volcano flowing with lava and spewing out smoky ash that burned our lungs with every terrifying step I took.
(Yes, I have had plenty of experiences walking across such physical bridges while living in Costa Rica. I even paid money for these experiences – minus the hot flowing lava flowing beneath the bridge. The picture above was taken in 2015 when Paul and I had to flee to Panama to get our passports stamped so we could drive until our visas came through.)
So why can’t I just act brave and get across this bridge I am on? And do I think I am alone in crossing this bridge? Well, when we get caught up in what we think our lives are “supposed” to look like, we can’t imagine even allowing ourselves to be in such a place, like crossing a dangerous bridge.
That is where humility is needed. Pride encourages so much evil! So very much! Like . . .
- Having a fear of men’s judgment more than of God’s judgment.
- Viewing life from the bottom up: fault-finding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might uplift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.
- A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his position.
- Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. “How everything affects me” is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking.
- Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.
- They do not receive counsel or correction easily. Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures.
- Depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success.
- Not easily taught, won’t accept truths, won’t change their minds in case they are wrong. Pride limits or stops our progression.
The list I made, from the article I read, could actually go on and on, but I was amazed at how often I find myself wanting to go to one of these prideful beliefs/emotions/actions to validate my circumstance I am currently in. Oh how wrong that is. And oh how human I am. What can be done?
Well, if I take a look back at the hanging bridge I feel I am on, I have to chuckle and remind myself of a post I posted only recently that told me to not focus on the trail but on the light! Oh how quickly I lost sight of doing this when I gave into those baser reactions that had me focus on the trail I was currently on, instead of focusing on following the light.
And what of those who are with me on the hanging bridge, my angels? They are there to be WITH ME, not against me. They know I am scared. They know that the ash from the active volcano hurts my nose, throat and lungs. But they also know WHY we are on this bridge in the first place, because They know where this bridge will lead me to. And that is THEIR goal for having me on this bridge in the first place . . . to get me to the light the best way I can get there.
Wow pride, you got a pretty good hold of me. Thankfully I was reminded of Alma the younger and so I humbled myself and cried out to my Savior and ask for the help that I needed. I feel like this song helps me explain how it feels to be helped by Him . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udD-F7yqTKw
Maybe it’s disappointing that God won’t take away our pain or keep our greatest fears from happening . . . but what if it is because they are exactly what we need to become what we really want to be, but we don’t know how to become it on our own?
My own mother confirmed this truth to me yesterday, as she called me right when I was contemplating if I should go with my family to a dinner date we had with another family that is also facing a tremendous fear too. I didn’t feel I had it in me to attend, but my mother reminded me that “from the tips of my toes to the top of my head, I have peace. Wendi, I would take this away from you in a heartbeat, if I could, but I can’t. And I know I can’t because I believe you will survive this. You will receive what you need. You can make it through!”
My mom knows what I have been through. She knows my unique pain and the heartbreaks of my heart. She also has been given the gift to know when her children are hurting so deeply, the pain threatens to destroy her children and she would do literally anything to save them from certain death. But she has also learned that she can not save us. She can’t. But she knows the only one who can. So she did what she does best and she testified of Him. She testified of His Divinity and His being with me . . . for she knows He is!
That truth alone got me into the car and into the home of an AMAZING family that night. They were so amazing, we didn’t want to leave, but I had to, my mind was starting to fall apart. Thankfully I chose to be humble and asked my husband for help and he was there for me to the end. We got me the medicine I needed (caffeine, vitamins, and a priesthood blessing). Then I surrounded myself in warmth and mediated, purposefully focusing on breathing to the tips of my toes and then to the top of my head. The next thing I knew . . . I was waking up and it was time to wake up. I had done it! I slept! 8 hours too and it was only 7:17 a.m.
I know that the curse of not being able to sleep will happen again, if I don’t do my part to take responsibility for how I use my time and what I allow myself to think and feel. Practicing self reliance is so vitally important. I know that these storms won’t stop, but if I will shelter myself and keep myself firmly planted, I can make it through and this way will help me become who I only hope to be one day. Thanks for listening.