The Bible says, “Humble yourself and you will be exalted.” I say, “Humble yourself, or God will do it for you!” Hee! Whether it was falling in the church parking lot last month, finding underwear on fire on my chandelier while I had visitors, or forgetting someone was coming to my house for lunch…that I cooked, these humbling experiences have all been reminders: I am not great.
Hudson Taylor, a 19th century missionary to China and one of the most profound Christian thinkers of all time had this to say about his life: “I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me.”
It’s sad to me how often I have wanted to look better than I really am. That is the next symptom of an ego problem in this series of letters about pride:
Trying to Look Better than Reality Reveals or…being stingy with the “sorry”.
Let me illustrate: A “Polly Pocket” is like a Barbie who has been zapped by the Honey I Shrunk the Kids gun, and her shoes were more impossible than Barbie’s to find in the grass. The Cheerios and raisins that were supposed to have lasted through all four soccer games had also been dumped into the said grass within this first game. The double-stroller was loaded with activities and snacks for my younger two (age 2 and 1 at the time) so my older two could participate in a soccer tournament.
“I’ll take the baby and meet you at field 10,” Chris said, as he pushed the stroller along the sideline toward our second son’s game. I waited for the 9 yr-old to finish in the coach’s meeting, while I pretended to do a Seek and Find game from the Highlights’ Magazines of my youth, but it seemed impossible in this grass to find matching shoes for poor Polly.
I put the 2-yr-old on one hip, and the 9-yr-old and I walked between the fields, seeing “field 10” about four field-lengths over.
Thousands of people filled every soccer field’s sideline of this event. The acreage spanned to allow for more than thirty simultaneous games, so I was grateful to only need to go a distance of four fields. I could see Chris, already a couple of fields-lengths ahead, struggling to move the stroller’s wheels through the wet grass. There was a game on my right and my left the entire walk, as spectators yelled for their kids in every direction, and I tried to squeeze between them.
Suddenly, the game on my right halted and the whistle blew. Three mothers went running onto the field. My heart sank; there must be a major injury. My mind raced, realizing I had never even seen ONE mother run onto the field, much less THREE! I watched with anticipation, wondering if someone was badly hurt, or if there would be a catfight. (You never know with us soccer moms. LOL!)
One of the mothers in the center of the field turned in the direction of the crowd, and said angrily, “WHOSE BABY IS THIS?!” as she held up a cute little 1-yr-old boy. To my horror, I realized it was MY 1-yr-old boy the stranger was now holding!!
I took a quick glance to see Chris still pushing a stroller a field away, not realizing his carrier was empty.
I forced up courage, and made my way through the sideline crowd to retrieve JR, and told the mean lady, “I know his mother.”
HAHA! Just kidding, I didn’t say that- but I bet I thought about it. How embarrassing! Not only did we lose a child, but we didn’t even know he was missing! Ugh!
I wish I had a video of HOW he got out of that stroller, because it is still a mystery to us! Thousands of people there and no one saw his escape? Wasn’t the stroller still moving? Did he fall, and then get back up and head for the field? Was he looking for me, or just chasing another soccer ball?
The questions all remain unanswered.
That feeling though…the one where I wanted to explain to everyone how faultless I was in the story…the one where my embarrassment actually slowed my legs from making the steps toward retrieving my own son…the feeling that I cared more about what those strangers thought of me than what God thought…the feeling that prevented me from saying, “Sorry!” which clearly should have been the first word out of my mouth, regardless of the fault assigned to their inconvenience…the feeling that I wanted to look better than actuality showed me to be…
In my fun little “Brady classic,” it is amusing to think of the embarrassment in the situation. In reality, though, pride becomes a problem when we start worrying more about what man thinks than what God thinks. We start living a facade that we are great and never want anyone to think otherwise. We buy clothes we can’t afford, live in houses beyond our means and avoid the words, “I’m sorry,” because we’re afraid of how it “makes us look.” We analyze fault to see if we believe ours weighs more than others involved, before we determine if we really have to apologize.
For me though, in real relationships with real people, there is nothing that “makes a person look better” than when he/she apologizes and truly means it. Sincere apologies represent quiet strength. When one admits wrong it clears air and allows others the confidence to admit their wrongs as well. Stubbornness breeds stubbornness. As the song goes, “We all talk a different language when we’re talking in defense.” Admitting wrong breeds comfort for those around you, removes their defenses and allows for more pure relationships.
May we be comfortable in being “small enough and weak enough” for God to use.
Humble yourself before the Lord. (Don’t make Him get out His “Honey I shrunk the Kids” gun and bring us down to size!)
1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Related Posts about Pride
Loving this series at this time of year. It helps to keep my heart right.
Thank you. Tami
I had the occasion about 2 weeks to apologize to my 16 year-old daughter Tirae’. We were at dinner after church at a restaurant when the horrible incident occurred where I lit into her before she even knew it. At the moment it seemed she was in the wrong, we had had “the conversation before” so now you asked for it. Talk about Emotional Intelligence.(yeah right) When the incident was over, the silence at our table was unbearable and dinner remained unpleasant. But what did I do? I tried to carry on as if nothing had happened. Within minutes I knew my methods were wrong, yet PRIDE kept me from apologizing. How ugly, I mean I had just left church. Anyway, later when I did creep sheepishly into her room to apologize I found her on her bed bright eyed “Hey mom, what’s up” and when she looked up it killed me even more. The unconditional love that I had taken for granted. All the books on relationships and the power of one was gone and my little girl was left feeling embarrassed, hurt and puny to say the least. Yet there she sat more mature than I. But what happened later that night brought tears to my eyes that would not stop. I went to my face book page to find that she had written a post about the great mommy she has, how I listen and she can talk with me about anything, how I am her example tagged me in it and posted it for the world to see. My crying returned and my heart hurt more than before. How could she write such a beautiful thing after such an ugly moment? Then it hit me, the apology let her know that I valued her and that I admitted I was wrong. That was redeeming for her. (I think)
I share this story because PRIDE is so ugly, yet God showed me through my daughter what allowing him to use you and getting PRIDE out of the way can and will do for you, a relationship and the offended party.
Thank you for the definition you gave long ago for EGO….Edging God Out! It has never left me.
Tina, Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for being transparent and sharing so the rest of us can be inspired. You sharpen me, my sister! I believe parenting is one of the toughest places where my pride tries to control. The “authority” God has assigned us as mothers and fathers can make us pretend to be “never wrong.” We know otherwise in our hearts, and your daughter is SO blessed to have a mother who was willing to admit it. Your sorry’s will make her less stingy with her own in years to come. Only God knows how far the ripples of your pebble in this pond will reach. I thank God for you. -Terri
What great insight! Thank you for being real!!! Love you!!! 🙂
It is a blessing to follow your example! I laughed out loud while reading! I can picture Chris pushing that stroller and going full speed ahead!!!
Love you and again thank you!!
I’m learning…. thinking…. Keep ’em coming!
God bless you Terri. Have a great day!
Wow! It’s nice to know that these things happen to other moms as well! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Terri. I needed to read this today I have a struggle that I am not sure what to do I have concerned if I have dug my heals in because of pride. Maybe I have silly thing its being a supervisor at work I really have tried to improve as a leader w awesome leadership material and I get conflicting stories my boss lets say isn’t the best leader they listen to oneside and your guilty. I want to follow the Lord and I am so blessed that I have something more that the Lord has laid in my lap, I need to focus on it so I can have my dream which is to be part of an orphanage medical clinci in a 3rd world country I shouldn’t let my pride delay me here. Thanks!
I am just amazed at the unusual things that happen to you (although, to you they may not be that unusual! 😛 …and I’m not a mom yet so yep, this is very unusual to me! lol) but I am very greatful for you sharing them and especially the lesson you find in them! It gets me thinking about what would I truly do in that situation (in any of the posts) and often, I feel conviction. Thank you! You are a blessing! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing Terri. As always you are an “authentic” women. You allow us each to grow and get better by learning from your insights.
And if J.R. should ever give you and Chris a hard to time for losing him at the soccer game, just remind him that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for 3 days in the temple. : ) 10 minutes at a soccer match won’t seem so bad.
I wish I could be a fly on the Brady’s wall! They have to make up these stories?!? Thanks for your examples of wisdom and understanding.
Terri! I love your humble spirit to be so transparent in sharing your experiences! These articles are so what I need! Thank you for sharing!
We had a 2 year old projectile vomit at the check out counter of a Krispy Creme one night. It was crowded too. My husband and I both felt like our shoes were in cement and we escaped asap. Is it bad that we are still, to this day, very grateful it happened there and not in our car?
Terri, thank you for your posts on pride. I don’t often think about why I choose or don’t choose to do things, I think of the ramifications of the choices. I probably would be surprised to find that the majority of the time my actions (or lack of) result in pride. I know for sure the “I’m sorry’s” don’t come as often as they should. Thank you for bringing this to my attention on an area that I should review more freaquently. 🙂 Thanks Terri, your posts are so insightful!
Love that story Terri! It was great when you shared in Harrisburg, so to hear and see it again is even more impactful! You are so real and therefore relateable; that’s what i admire about you! This has been a weak area for me to work on, so thank you for sharing and teaching on this form of pride:)
I love your quote, “Humble yourself and you will be exalted.” I say, “Humble yourself, or God will do it for you!” 🙂 thank you for your inspiration to become the best I can be!