The Pride Chronicles: Getting Good at Being Wrong
Author: Sara Burns
Well, here goes. Another chronicle on pride, another opportunity to humiliate myself. This is going to be such a cleansing process. So, which aspect of my multi-faceted pride should we draw upon today? How about...
I don’t like being wrong.
Ever. I’m sure some of you can relate. But I guess those of you who can won’t ever admit it. Did you like being told “no” as a child? Never! We’ve never in our human flesh gladly accepted correction. That comes from the Holy Spirit because it takes His humility. I know as a toddIer I must’ve had that same little devious arched eyebrow that my kids get when we start introducing the “no”. I’m sure you did too. I’m sure in our own ways, we still do. It’s that little blossoming rebellion that says, “Did you really just oppose me?”.
Not only do I not like being wrong, I don’t like getting things wrong. And being less than perfect.
When we first got married, Ryan started as a worship leader at our church. I was often keyboard player for the worship band. I had grown up in a somewhat musical family and had gone to college for music; he had grown up in a very musical family and had toured in college for music. He trumped my knowledge and experience, but I wasn’t about to happily roll over and concede. Also, I desperately wanted to impress my new husband with my abilities. What sounds like a perfect setting for fun times as happy spouses was instead tense and biting as he tried to critique and I boiled in anger. (I have matured a lot since then…)
Then there were the times we tried playing tennis together. I look back on them with a mixture of fondness and frustration. I grew up playing, and he didn’t know the tiniest thing about the game. Perfect, I thought. Unfortunately, he has a natural knack for just about anything he puts his hand to. He has more of an obstinately determined personality that will drill until he gets something right. Soon we couldn’t play anymore, because I was losing too much. We started going to just “hit around” instead of playing an actual game because I just couldn’t take it.
Don’t even get me started on ballroom dancing. In this I do still remain the more talented of the two of us, but unfortunately I can never take the male lead position so this sport too was a bust.
I have sections of my life that I am very happy being humble about, and even invite criticism. Like…hold on a second, it’ll come. I don’t even pretend to be good at sewing, crafting, or any form of minute handiwork (I may find pride in this fact, however). I am not at all good at taxes or reading detailed instruction guides or fixing things in general. In these areas I happily invite Ryan to instruct, or even better, take over. But batten down the hatches and secure the rigging if he should give me constructive criticism on my cooking, gentle suggestions on my conduct towards the kids, or kindly intended words of advice on my use of time. Heck, I don’t like him telling me to try a different shirt. (Uh! You don’t faint at my beauty whatever old thing I may have on?!)
I think I have always resented criticism. Actually I’m certain of it. It just stings so badly. I’ve always wanted to naturally be the perfect daughter, Christian, friend, pastor’s wife, student, writer, athlete, etc. I’ve wanted the praise minus the instruction and the glory minus the sweat. I especially want people I admire to only ever recognize my sterling qualities.
Why does it hurt so much to be found wanting in the eyes of people we love? We are trying SO hard to perform well. We are trying so hard to be accepted. Why do we try so hard? Maybe childhood hurts, but also, we want some of the glory for ourselves. We want to be able to take the credit for our goodness or success. We’re glory-stealers naturally.
Remember Adam and Eve? They gladly received direction every day from the Lord, until they sinned. Then they exchanged their godly character for traits of satan. Now we are each born with natures poisoned by the nature of satan. Satan was the ultimate glory-stealer. We will struggle our entire lives to steal God’s glory until we give over our lives to Christ. Then He can start the process of reworking our characters into Glory-givers instead.
So how do I get good at being wrong?
First and foremost I have to stop working to impress God. I have to give in to His work for me. This is the gospel. A heart submitted to this gospel will change every other relationship. The more my heart settles on the fact that God is satisfied in me, that He is indeed proud of me because of Jesus, then I can be at peace with every other relationship. His pleasure will fill my heart so much that I won’t need much else!
Also, I need to quickly shed the nature of the devil and take on the nature of Christ! How can I? Rush to accept criticism, swallow the bitter pill of my own pride, and get on with humility. Pride will stifle our growth and the things we so badly want to be good at will never progress in its shadow. I wonder how many things I would be better at today, had I been ok with criticism in my past? There are works to be done and people to become and it starts with being okay with being wrong. God’s pleasure over me makes me okay with being wrong and needing help and not being the best. I can embrace humility as the way to His character. The more I embrace humility, the more I will be absorbed by the nature of Jesus.