Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pesky Pernicious Perilous Pride

Have you ever thought or said any of the following phrases?

"Can you even believe they said that to me?!"
"I can't believe they did that to me!"
"Who do they think they are?!"
"They can't say that to me!"
"They can't treat me like that!"

I have. Each and every time one of those phrases entered my mind, I felt completely justified in my annoyance, anger and hurt...until now.

You see, I recently found myself in the middle of a few interactions that helped me finally understand why there is so much written about pride in the scriptures. (A simple search of the word pride on LDS.org returns 119 references in the scriptures and scriptural helps.) The basic warning that covers it all is found throughout the scriptures: "...beware of pride..." It might sound strange to some, but up until a while ago, I didn't worry that much about pride.

As I reflected on those prideful interactions, I found it super interesting to remember my 2015 fascination with President Ezra Taft Benson's marvelous lesson about pride. I highly recommend reading or listening to Chapter 18: "Beware of Pride,"  Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), 229–40. I listened to his lesson (while getting ready for the day) at least nine or 10 times this year—probably more, but I lost count! I'm sure I'll listen to his lesson again.

Knowing what I know now from my recent encounters, I know I was inspired by the Holy Ghost to listen to President Benson's brilliant words. I needed his advanced tutelage in order to prepare me for those prideful and somewhat hurtful interactions. And yet, even as I write about the hurt, I know that pride is what allowed me to feel hurt in the first place. Oh, the irony!

It is the strangest thing for me to finally and wholly internalize that being offended has everything to do with pride.

Please don't laugh at me for coming late to the pride-knowledge party, for I truly never thought about pride in that context before—that is, until others let me know I offended them in some way.

I won't go into details of the instances that spurred this post, but suffice it to say, apparently (at times), my personality has been offensive to others. To find out that information was shocking, unexpected and totally disheartening. Yet as I thought back on my life, I realized that that idea was not new—which astounded me! For I never, ever purposely tried to offend or hurt anyone.

Over the past several weeks, I've tried not to dwell on those surprising, revealing, painful and pride-filled interactions, but I admit, they entered my mind from time to time. After all, I'm only human. I didn't let those unhappy thoughts linger in my happy mind—I pushed them out as quickly as they came, but sometimes they recurred. I tried not to beat myself up over mistakes made throughout my life, but sometimes I shuddered at the thought that anyone could take such offense at my words and actions—or lack thereof!

Despite my social blunders, thankfully, I've come to understand the following:
  1. When someone is offended by me, their pride is taking over—and vice versa.
  2. Another person's pride is none of my business—and vice versa.
  3. I cannot spend my days worrying that someone might be offended by me, for pride is (or will be) a problem for everyone at some time in their life, or another. Thus, it's nearly a guarantee that someone will be offended by me, no matter what I say or do. Besides, constant censoring of oneself is not only tiring, but it hinders a soul's growth.
  4. When it's been pointed out to me that I've offended someone (unknowingly), sincerely apologizing and changing my ways (to the extent possible) is the only thing I can do. It's completely up to the other person whether they want to forgive me, or not.
  5. I will continue to freely apologize any time someone is offended by me. I wish those instances would stop, but knowing my "offensive" track record, I can't see that they will completely disappear. Refer back to point three. :)
  6. No matter how much I want to fretfully worry about my varied social faux pas, I must accept that I can't undo what has been done. It is what it is.
  7. When I have been enlightened by someone as to the errors of my ways, I should not allow their sad words to stay in my thoughts and further hurt my heart.
  8. If I allow myself to be hurt or offended by someone else's words, my pride is taking over.
  9. I must learn from prideful situations, forgive others and move on. *That doesn't mean I forgive the person/people and then foolishly allow myself to be put in harm's way again. No. It means I let the incident go; stop talking about it; protect myself from future incidents; and pray for strength to happily continue moving forward! :)
There are many great quotes about pride that I must share from Chapter 18: "Beware of Pride," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, {2014}, 229–40:
"Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. ... 
"Pride is characterized by 'What do I want out of life?’ rather than by 'What would God have me do with my life?' It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God. 
"Humility responds to God’s will—to the fear of His judgments and to the needs of those around us. To the proud, the applause of the world rings in their ears; to the humble, the applause of heaven warms their hearts."
However, this good quote made my heart sink:
"Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin."
Um, yeah... After reading those words, I felt like I was the pride equivalent of "Cher" on Clueless—which is probably no surprise to some! ;)

Here are two more important quotes from President Benson's lesson:
"God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, 'Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.' (Alma 32:16.) ...Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can."
"We must cleanse the inner vessel by conquering pride. (See Alma 6:2–4; Matthew 23:25–26.) ...We must yield 'to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,' put off the prideful 'natural man,' become 'a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,' and become 'as a child, submissive, meek, humble.' (Mosiah 3:19; see also Alma 13:28.)"
As I internalized that the remedy for pride is humility, I felt like there was no hope for me—for I am a very strong-willed (And physically strong! Ha ha.), outspoken, opinionated, energetic and exuberant lady! Hi! Enthusiastic Fantasticanyone?! ;)

I felt like I would be in "eternal" trouble for just being who I am because, apparently, some (or many?) people perceive my personality as prideful—even though I don't view myself as prideful. I worried that because others view me as prideful, perhaps our Heavenly Father views me in the same sad light?? My thought process might sound strange, but it's how I felt.

Nevertheless, as I re-listened to President Benson's lesson, my thoughts continually drifted back to this glorious quote (below) that was given to President Benson by his eternal and lovely wife, Flora Amussen Benson. I say "given" because Sister Benson's words truly are a gift!
"Don't worry about the world's opinion of you as long as you're right with the Lord."
Thank you, Flora, for your words are precisely what my heart needed! :)

In my mind, everything I've done in my life—albeit imperfectly—has been within the bounds our Heavenly Father has set. In other words: I've followed our Savior Jesus Christ and His teachings to the very best of my ability.

Like our Savior, everything I do revolves around our Heavenly Father's will. I'm not 100% successful at following His will all the time, but, day in and day out, I am trying my best to do what is right. Thankfully, the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes up the difference for what I am unable to accomplish. Truly, if I'm right with the Lord, nothing else matters.

What further helped heal my wounded heart is this fabulous quote:
"But humility does not mean weakness. It does not mean timidity; it does not mean fear. [We] can be humble and also fearless. [We] can be humble and also courageous. Humility is the recognition of our dependence upon a higher power, a constant need for the Lord's support..." – Chapter 22: "Carrying the Gospel to the World," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), 275–86
Can I get a hallelujah?! Because, yes, I freely and fully recognize that I am completely dependent upon the Lord. Yet in that same breath, I know I can continue being strong, fearless and courageous in my life—and I have the Lord's blessing in doing so, as long as I follow Him! :)

I will "ponder the path of my feet" and proceed with my daily endeavors to rid my soul of that pesky pernicious perilous pride. I'll willingly continue traveling along our Savior's path throughout eternity!

P.S. Aren't words so much fun?! :)

2 comments:

  1. You're a sweetheart. And pride is something we all deal with, in one way or another!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Amy! You always make me smile! :)

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