I was born the first of three daughters to a hard working, church-going farmer and his wife. I was happy to think of myself as the son my Daddy never had. At age 5, I would wake up early just to go with him to milk Bossy. A half hour later we were back with a full pail of milk for my Mom to strain for the table while we waited for her homemade biscuits to brown.
When I was six, he taught me how to drive his old army jeep out. The summer of my sixth grade I drove a bob-truck for six weeks helping to harvest crops to feed the cattle for the winter. I was happy to get paid a dollar a day. That was big money for a 12-year-old! (Okay, it was a long time ago…. I used my $36 to buy a cassette tape recorder!)
Along with teaching me to drive a tractor, combine, cotton picker, and backhoe, a sense of independence was one of the greatest gifts my daddy gave me. There was nothing I couldn’t do just because I was a girl. He never made me feel less than strong or able. He taught me to stand on my own and take responsibility for my life. As a young girl these were hard lessons, but as a grown woman, I understood their value, and that independence has served me well.
Independence can also foster something less attractive: stubborn pride; a determination to do things alone without needing any help; to work hard and take control; to keep all details and decisions tucked away in my own two hands.
My “I can do it myself” attitude fostered an unchecked pride and eventually isolation.
But God created us for community.
From creation, God created us to be in community with Him and then with each other. From the beginning of time, Adam and Eve required the presence of God for sustainance of their souls. Even from conception we are marked as created, not Creator. We are fully dependent on God for survival.
We are proud, independent, and determined to control our destiny.
And yet we can often forget. Only we can’t!
How often does it take tragedy or hardship for us to finally recognize the foolishness of pride? When the doctor calls with bad news despite all the exercise and good eating habits. When our child gets kicked out of school despite our excellent parenting skills and all those discussions about choices and consequences. Or despite our excellent money management skills, the housing market still collapses.
What value is our pride then?
Pride began before the earth began. Remember Lucifer’s prideful story? Pride is what tempted Eve. Pride led David to murder his lover’s husband.
Pride says, “No, I don’t want to,” or “I can do it myself!”
Pride demands its own way, denies leadership or counsel, regardless of the cost. Pride always costs more than we want to pay.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13
The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5
Yet humility comes with great reward.
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
Pride is hard to face for what it is. And letting go of it makes us feel like we might lose something of ourselves. But the opposite is true. Humility sets us free. We no longer have to have all the answers or walk through this life on our own.
The next time you are tempted to raise your chin and take control of the situation, reconsider. You have a God whose wisdom has no limits and whose love knows no end. You can do it your own way, with your short life perspective, or you can do it His way, with an eternal one. Trust God’s love and leadership.
Because you are what God says that you are! You are enough!
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Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is ten years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 38 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ To read Cindy’s BoP Bio click here.