The ugly truth

I’ve been working on a post for more than a two weeks. Every day I’d tap out a few lines, tweak them, delete them. The writing was good, but something didn’t seem quite right.

Some of you have already heard the story I tried to blog. How a faculty member thought I was an undergrad student, how his comments jerked the band-aid off my carefully-concealed insecurities and desires for a second degree. How I felt devalued.

“Oh,” he said, once he learned I worked at the front desk full time. “I see. So what are your career goals? What’s the plan?”

I thought I was simply insecure.
I thought it was an example of secular “success” clashing with the things God had called me to be successful in.
I thought it would make a good blog, neatly tied at the end with something pithy that would make me sound mature.

The truth is far uglier. I’m proud.

The realization came last night like a 5000-watt spotlight, piercing past my self-deception into the muck I’d hidden from myself. I was listening to this podcast by Nancy Leigh DeMoss titled, appropriately, “A Pride Test”. With each convicting question, I cried harder into my tortilla soup.

Do you think of yourself as more spiritual than your mate, your co-workers, other Christians you know?
Are you quick to find fault with others and then verbalize those faults to others?
Are you proud of the schedule you keep? How disciplined you are and how much you are able to accomplish?
Do you give undue time or attention to your physical appearance?
Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel irked with people who don’t do things as well or as quickly as you?
Do you often complain about the weather, your heath, your busy-ness? (We will complain if we think we deserve better). 
Do you talk too much about yourself?
Do you get hurt if your accomplishments or contributions are not noticed or rewarded?

Pride thinks it deserves respect, and is easily injured when it isn’t taken seriously. This is what I felt that day as I tried to explain and defend my career. I should have known: one of Pride’s favorite costumes is insecurity.

ouch.

And it’s a good hurt. I need to feel it, to look the ugliness full-on in the mirror and recognize it as me.

So here’s the thing. Please don’t write a comment and tell me I’m not proud. I know you’d be doing it to be kind, but it would be way too easy to believe you. Self-deception is so attractive. CS Lewis wrote this about pride:

“If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

God doesn’t flatter me. He aims the spotlight on the muck so that my disgust will bring me to Him, the Cleanser who already paid an ultimate price for my shame.

It’s a severe mercy. But I need mercy in every form.

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