The Pains of PrideOn One-Ups and Put-DownsBy Susie Lloyd
JUL. 10, 2010 (www.faithandfamilylive.com
) - “Right when I’m done with my story this guy goes, ‘That ain’t nothin’!’ … Oh ... well ... didn’t mean to waste everybody’s time telling my nothin’ story. Here—let Marco Polo speak!”—Brian Regan
One-ups and put-downs are hilarious—when you’re Brian Regan. Even then, I bet even that talented comedian wasn’t laughing when it happened.
Who would? It’s a full-face slap to your pride. I don’t know about you but when given the choice between a slap to my pride and a slap to my head, I just might choose to scrunch up my eyes real tight and take it on the head. The body heals in a matter of days. Ego stings are sometimes remembered and felt even decades later.
We’re supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s the second greatest commandment, runner-up only to love of God for His own sake. This means that if something good happens to our neighbor, we’re supposed to feel joy along with him. We are not supposed to feel threatened or look for ways to lessen his good fortune for heaven’s sake!
You might not know where I’m going with this rant but I bet you’ve guessed where I’m coming from. Not that it happened to me the other day or anything ...
Okay, you got me. A lady at church asked where my daughter Kate was. I answered (with the humility of a plaster saint, I assure you) that she was back at school in New Hampshire for a few days before taking off with some other students to study at Oxford on a literary fellowship. The lady’s response? “There are a lot of programs out there these days.”
Suddenly, Kate’s academically earned, all expense paid, chance-of-a-lifetime seemed like no big deal.
Then she added, “We were there. It’s lovely.” She then proceeded to show off her new Mercedes convertible. Really. Stack of bibles.
Perhaps I’m just being an over-sensitive, prideful (okay, rabid) mother. Perhaps putting me down was the furthest thing from her mind. I don’t know what her intentions were. All I do know is that it felt like a one-two punch. One: that’s not so special. Two: Been there, done that. Bought the engraved flatware.
Now I’m sure keyboards are ready to fly on the whole pride issue. “Offer it up. It’s a gift!” I can hear the clicking already. Guess what? I heartily agree. Ego stings can and should be offered up. In the first place, humility’s a virtue and pride is a sin. Not to mention that, “He who loveth himself hath no rivals.”
In the second place, offering it up means that God—the Big Junk Collector in the Sky—can make it good. “We pay Grace for your junk!” Where else are you going to get that kind of exchange?
Part of the grace has to be that when it happens to you, it occurs to you that you might commit the very same thing.
After the conversation when I was alone with my conscience, my conscience spoke up.
Ahem: What do I hear when someone else has good news? Do I feel competitive or do I share in their joy? Do I find people boring when they talk about themselves? Is my mind on my own affairs? Do I merely wait for the person to stop talking so I can have my turn and then expect full engagement from the other person? Answers to be revealed this Saturday at 4 pm, in the rear confessional.
Not many days after the first conversation, I called an out of town friend to say happy four year old birthday to her daughter—who is my godchild. My friend was running to prepare the party so she could only talk for a minute. But she said, “We have to set up a time to talk. I miss you! I want to hear about your life!”
I was lifted up, not put down. In the same short amount of time as it had taken the church lady to take me down, my friend had made me feel great. Later that night when I was alone with my conscience, my conscience cleared its throat softly.
Ahem: How much am I like my friend? Do I genuinely care about what someone else has to say? Do I listen attentively with real interest? Do I value other people and their unique personalities? Do I count myself lucky to have them to listen to, not just to talk to?
Answers to be revealed Saturday, 4 pm, rear confessional ... and throughout the rest of my life.
—Senior writer Susie Lloyd’s latest book is Bless Me Father For I Have Kids.