In thinking of some of the worst times of my life – times I’ve lost jobs, lost friendships, ended a marriage – there seems to be a common thread that runs through them all. That thread is pride – not the confident, assertive kind, but the haughty kind that “goeth before the fall.”
I won’t go into any details, but I was once fired from my job because I thought I was too important and placed myself above the goal of the project. Another time, for nearly a decade I was estranged from a once-close circle of friends when I believed they were disrespecting me and my talent. My marriage failed, and when the final straw broke, it was more about my personal dignity than the actions or events that had happened. Most recently, I broke off my engagement and much of it was due to my ego and what I felt I deserved without expressing what I needed from her; in fact, I even gave her permission to go against my wishes, then turned those actions against her.
However, my point has nothing to do with the details, but I offer a glimpse to illustrate my puffed-up ego and perception of my own self-importance in each of these cases. Later, after the dust of my pride settled, I suffered deep regret from each of these happenings. Sadly, these are not the only episodes of my life where this lack of humility exists, but they are significant events where my point is easily identified.
To be fair, I am not the sole villain in these tales. This is not some self-piteous crisis that I decry. The other people in each story are not innocent and did things I believe they now regret as well. However, I cannot control or be responsible for what anyone else does. I don’t get to correct and build character from their mistakes and actions. I can only do those things about my own behavior and my own mindset. Regardless of anyone else’ actions, I must still be true to myself.
This makes me think of the passage in Second Chronicles, where it says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I note that Ezra does not address the wrong-doing of others or blame enemies for things that had happened to the Israelites. He talks about their actions, their responsibilities and their humility.
I can’t point the finger at others and blame them for the results. Others may play a factor and influence the outcome, but ultimately I make choices. I am held accountable for those choices, regardless of those around me. When I choice with a spirit of pride and without humility, the results are often wasteful – and become chapters of my life filled with remorse.
Today, I pray that I stay humble in every encounter I have and that I remember I am not as important as my pride whispers. I will cherish everything as if it were a gift – because it is.