The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart-Pride
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
From grade school through middle school, my brothers and I participated in oratorical speaking contests. Every year, we would memorize and practice lengthy pieces. I did not like these contests, but both my parents thought it was important that we learn to speak in front of a crowd. Normally, I would just coast and halfway do it. However, my last year, I decided that I wanted to be in the top three. So, I actually practiced really hard and I memorized a lengthy piece. I went all out: I had gestures, inflection, expression: I thought no one could touch me. And at the competition, I was in my zone. After I presented my piece to the judges, there was no way I was not one of the best orators. However, when the decision came down, I only received honorable mention. I was livid. I thought I had been robbed. Leaving the auditorium, I told my mother I would never do another speech again. Why? Because my pride was hurt. And because pride was hurt, I did not put forth the effort to develop what could have been a real talent.
This is just one of many instances where my pride was hurt and I took the stance that “I didn’t want to play anymore”, or I sought retribution on the basis of principle or refused the help of others. It has been something that I have always struggled with, personally and just being a man. However, there is a thin line pride and principle.
Foolish and False Pride
The last and probably the greatest reason relationships fail is pride, because it is the sin all others originate from. What is pride? Some refer to it as arrogance, disdain for the value of others, hubris, an attitude of over self-importance, rebellion. To me, it is when ego obstructs doing the right thing.
How many times has your pride caused you to do what was right? Lately, I have been wondering why whenever I try to humble myself, I keep getting in the way? Whether it is in my spiritual life, my relationships, or whatever. And frequently, this comes out when someone has offended our self-perception or attacked our self-worth.
Love is Stronger than Pride?
In relationships, pride is especially deadly because we feel as if those we deal with intimately should know better and know what will hurt or offend us. Thus, they are in a key position to clash against our delicate egos. This makes communication or forgiveness almost impossible. Pride also acts as a blinder of the truth. We will continue in wrong and try to justify it, rather than rejoicing in truth and the resolution of conflict. We will not even come to the table because we are so hurt and so offended. I am guilty of it, we all are. And when pride comes, our worse selves are made manifest.
On the other hand, what if you are dealing with an egotistical person? The prideful person takes the form of many different personality types and people have varying levels. However, if it gets to the point where you cannot reason with them or they will not listen, or their pride makes them vindictive, watch out. It may be better to deal with them from a distance. In a relationship or any multiple person enterprise, there is a certain level of conciliation that occurs to move from the local “I” to the nonlocal “us”.
Pride is also manifested in so-called independence. People who try to take everything on themselves, when the endeavor or situation affects everyone. I am not talking about when one person steps up because no one else will. I am referring to when you have willing participants, but you want to do it yourself. I see this all the time in relationships. One person will have a problem, and would rather struggle with it all alone, rather than sharing it with their companion. What they fail to realize is that their partner is affected whether they share it or not, because they can tell something is off. And begins to breed mistrust and hurt because that openness and honesty is not being manifested between them anymore. The only cure is to move from the “I” mentality to a “We” mentality. This movement fosters intimacy, strength and healing.
Gratitude is the cure for pride. When you see how fragile you really are and how blessed you are in spite of yourself, it is hard to let yourself get in the way. We must learn to manage our egos before we miss out on some really good people and opportunities. It is a constant battle to maintain proper perspective and to know the true source of our feelings and motivations. Is it pride or principle?
These last five weeks, we have explored the five most common reasons relationships fail. I have learned some things about myself and I hope you have also. In Genesis, it says that it is not good for man to be alone. Humans are social creatures and we need relationships to foster our growth and development. Therefore, we should continue to strive for a “more perfect union” with God, ourselves and each other.