#13 – Discontentment is Pride Pt II

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Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. Thomas Merton Someone who is full of pride is impressed with who they are, what they have accomplished – or what they could accomplish if their true potential was unleashed – and expects others to share that perspective. I know this – because I’m describing myself.

Last week we looked at how pride steals our contentment because we can’t accept what we think is the best way forward may not be the best way forward. Today we focus on how pride encourages our belief that we are good enough and don’t need help.

Our society tends to use worlds like self-confidence, self-esteem, self-actualization, and talks about how we have beauty, goodness, truth if we can only get in touch with it. We like to think we are actually OK. More than OK. We are pretty good deep down inside and we should be proud of who we are and what we can accomplish. We simply don’t see pride as a problem, in fact, quite the contrary -we find that pride (or at least an acceptable level of it) is a good thing. It’s considered not a vice, but a virtue. This thinking goes back to ancient Greece with Aristotle who said: “Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes (the others) more powerful” The ‘crown of all the virtues.’ Not just a virtue, a thing you try to attain, but the best of them, the most desirable. If you want to be ‘virtuous’ – then make sure pride is at the top of the list of all your characteristics. In our society, everyone from pop psychology blogs to those identifying themselves as Christian preachers tell us we should be happy with who we are, just the way we are.

This pride is the source of: “it’s fine, I’ve got this” – so we avoid help from anything, anyone – including God. When we get to those situations (and they will come) where it becomes obvious that “no, you don’t got this” – discontentment is the inevitable result. Submit.

We hate that.

Submitting is the very opposite of pride.

Submit literally means to place under in an orderly fashion. So there always is an object of submission, you don’t just submit, you have to submit to something or someone. If I said ‘put that under’… you would have to reply with ‘under what?’

The Biblical response of course is to put yourself under God. Under his instruction, direction, love, care.

That is perhaps the best way to have a concept of what is the opposite of pride. We don’t consider ourselves equal to (or even superior to) God, therefore we need to accept his will is better than ours. His ways are superior to ours. His understanding exceeds ours. His wisdom far surpasses the wisdom of the world. We have to admit that we don’t know it all, can’t handle it all, and don’t have all the answers. That admission causes our pride to take a hit, and we generally don’t like things that cause our pride to take a hit. But if we can accept that we do need help – then we can take a step towards a life of contentment.


DO THIS

What are you struggling with right now? Is part of the struggle a refusal to accept help? Is it a refusal to admit you even need help? I deeply encourage you to reach out to someone. Do it now. Ask someone for help. Admit you need help. Send an email admitting you can’t do it all. Send the text saying you can’t do what you thought you could. Say you can’t do what you said you would. This is HARD. But it’s hard, because our pride takes a hit. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


PRAY THIS

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

{from Litany of Humility – Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val 1865-1930}

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