Lori Freeland-Two Sides of Pride
A warm welcome to my guest blogger, Lori Freeland. Lori is a freelance editor and the author of Young Adult and Contemporary Romance. So glad to have her!
Ever feel like you fall short of the mark? Miss your best moments? Never make the cut. Always come in last?
Feel free to substitute any other heart-hollowing cliché for the few above. They all mean the same thing—You’re not good enough. And maybe you never will be.
I grew up in a time when parents were told to shower children with a stream of self-esteem, pep-talk pat-on-the-backs.
Be all you can be. You can do anything you put your mind to. Hard work equals success. If you do the right thing, everything will work out.
But what happens when all you can be isn’t enough or your mind reaches farther than reality or your hard work only leaves you running in place while your right choices lead to chaos and dead ends?
Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Giving up. Shaken faith. Can you relate? I can.
Lately, I’ve been asking God to show me a different perspective—His perspective—and what He’s shown me is that my self-esteem, or lack of it, cuts Him out. He gives it another name. Pride. That nasty thing that seems to always sneak in right before my downfalls.
Times in my life when I’ve taken over the center of attention, hogged the credit for a project, elevated myself above the rules, and walked my road alone—confident my way was best.
But also times in my life when I’ve stood back, disengaged, given up, and walked my road alone—confident I’d never amount to much.
We don’t often attach pride to the idea of self-esteem. Why should we? High self-esteem is praised as confidence. Low self-esteem can equal humility. Either way, we can’t go wrong.
But what if by believing too much, or not enough, in myself, I miss the chance for God to use me the way He wants?
The idea of self-esteem is backward. It isn’t about me, or what I can do on my own. It’s about God, and who He wants me to be.
I love my parents. But I believe my generation was done a great disservice. I can’t be whatever I want no matter how hard I try. I’ll never be an Olympic athlete. My body doesn’t work that way. I’ll never be a NASA engineer. My mind doesn’t work that way. I’ll never adopt an army of kids and make each of them feel special. My heart doesn’t work that way.
Those aren’t the skills and talents God gave me. He’s prepared me to do a work for Him that He chose. Not me.
Look at it this way. God isn’t stingy when He dispenses gifts. He isn’t stingy with talents and skills either. He’s loading your arsenal with everything He wants you to have.
So what if you said, “I’ve got this,” and ran after something else, certain you could achieve your goals your way?
That’s what happened when God promised Abraham and Sarah a child. Sarah did it her way and sent her husband to her servant, Hagar, to conceive. You can read how well that worked out for Sarah in Genesis 16-21.
Or what if when God pointed out your arsenal, you said, “No thanks. You’ve made a mistake. I can’t use the talents you gave me because I’ll never be good enough,” and turned away and hung your head?
That’s exactly what Moses did. He had an entire argument with God about why he wasn’t good enough to confront Pharaoh. Check out Exodus chapters 3 and 4.
Who were Sarah and Moses to question God? He gave them everything they needed. One thought she knew better. The other felt he couldn’t make the grade. Both suffered from opposite sides of pride.
Pride isn’t telling everyone why you’re worthy or not worthy. Pride is being ungrateful for God’s gifts. Pride is turning from your talents. Pride is scorning your God-given skills.
If you’re a believer, it’s not really about self-esteem anyway. It’s about God-esteem. Like Sarah and Moses, who I am to argue with God’s plans for me, and the way I fit into His bigger life picture? Everything I have, everything I am, starts and ends with Him.
It isn’t about me. It never has been.
Remember that catchy phrase—If God leads you to it, he’ll bring you through it. Where is God leading you? What does He want you to do for Him? Who does He want you to be? What experiences and people and opportunities and skills has he given you that you’ve ignored because of overconfidence or inadequacy? It’s a hard question, isn’t it?
But remember, He’s already done the work. He’s equipped you for the path He’s laid out. We just have to stick with Him to walk it out.
Lori Freeland, author, freelance editor, and writing coach holds a BA in psychology from the University of Wisconsin and currently lives in the Dallas area. She’s been published in various e-zines and anthologies as well as written numerous blogs for new writers and presented at multiple writing workshops. When she’s not snuggled up with her husband and worrying about her kids, she spends her days dreaming up romance and messing with the lives of imaginary people.