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Posts Tagged ‘pride’

brat

My one year-old has begun to learn how to test her limits.  As she turns quickly into a full-fledged, card-carrying toddler, she has decided she wants to see just how much she can get away with and just how far she can go without suffering punishment or unfavorable consequences.

All babies do this.  All toddlers, children, and teenagers do this.  Young adults do this.  Even elderly people do this and many do it for the duration of their lives in relation to God.  It is not usually a good sign, but it can be a good indication of where a person is in maturity.

“Sonny, no, no!” I say firmly as she pulls my earring.

We’ve had this interaction before, many times.  I have taken out my earrings and showed her.  I have given language lessons on how to pronounce the word, “ear-ring.”  I have emphatically told her with as much clarity as humanly possible the word, “NO” on many occasions when her little fingers have purposely found these friends who take up residence in my ears.  Still, there is just something irresistible about giving a good yank and feeling the success and satisfaction of holding the shiny piece of metal in her tiny hand once she’s pulled it completely out of my ear.

Yesterday was no different.  All was well in the world of baby blanket peek-a-boo and near naptime nummies until Sonny saw the silver booty sparkling like a new stairwell to climb.  The promise of victory was simply too tempting.  How could she be expected to obey?

She pulled down and I, once again, calmly, but sternly, corrected.

“No, no, Sonny!  That is ouchy.”

She waited.  She played more blanket-boo.  Then, she decided she would see if anything bad really would happen if she deliberately disobeyed again.

This time she pulled much harder and it really was ouchy.  After my yelp of pain, I smacked her fingers and said, “No, no, Sonny!  That is bad!”

At that, she buried her face in the pillow.  She did not cry.  She hid.  She knew what she had done.  She knew better.  She was either ashamed or she was upset that she’d not gotten away with it this time.  She was embarrassed that she’d been harshly corrected because harsh correction, though sometimes very necessary, is never pleasant.  Nevertheless, when injury to another or potential injury to another or self is imminent and one has been repeatedly told and corrected calmly, there is no choice but to correct in a more severe way.  The goal is caution.  The purpose is to arrest repeated bad behavior lest it cause more severe injury and more severe punishment.

No one particularly likes to discipline their children.  It is not pleasant because the love we have for them causes us pain when they are hurt or upset, too.  Yet, we must be faithful to correct disobedience in order to protect and save them from future harm.

It is one thing when we correct our children.  It is quite another when someone else corrects them.

If I do not do my job in properly training, correcting, and disciplining my children – sometimes even if I do – others will find it necessary – other parents, other teachers, other law enforcement agents eventually.  If it is not pleasant for me to do so, consider how unpleasant it will be for me when someone else does it.  Now, not only is my child suffering for disobedience, I am as well, and both of us at the correction of a stranger.

We have all seen it.  A mother or a father pays no mind to the poor behavior of his or her child and then someone comes along and corrects that child for causing injury or chaos on the playground.  This is an unusually awkward situation.  Little Susie (AKA Captain Destructo) is under parental jurisdiction but the parent is AWOL.  It leaves no choice for the more mature and attentive parents in the vicinity of Captain Destructo Susie to step up and intervene before (or after!) their children become hurt or victimized by her bad behavior.

Often, this results in Susie’s parent becoming angry.  The reason Suzie’s parent is mad is the issue of pride.  They did not do their job so someone else had to.  They either thought Susie more valuable and important than all the other children she was hurting or they thought themselves more important than even their own child.  It is likely a little – or a lot – of both.  These things were proven true by their choosing to ignore her bad behavior and selfishly avoid conflict with the child and also failing to take personal responsibility for the correction and discipline of their own family member.

A humble parent, on the other hand, will be thankful and appreciative when their child is corrected by another concerned authority.  The reason is because we know that obedience to authority is protection for our beloved children and a training ground for God’s authority in their lives.  This is doubtless the reason the Word of God instructs us – His children – to exhort one another daily.  Daily!  Every.  Single.  Day.

Consider that next time someone exhorts you or a member of your family for pulling down and pain-making in someone else’s life.  It is not just children who need corrected.  It is not just children who repeatedly test limits, hurt others, and fail to listen to repeated warnings.  There is a time for alarm, caution, and increasing corrective severity when important warnings are not heeded.

Pride is angry when corrected.  Humility is thankful.

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responsibility

Five days of provision had gone by.  The manna fell faithfully as God’s people continued to rebel.  Moses was mad over their stubbornness, disobedience, and unbelief.

When the sixth day came, they gathered twice as much manna.  Apparently, they had some knowledge at this time about a Sabbath rest – even before the law was given or Moses had specifically instructed them.  It wasn’t until after they had gathered twice as much bread on the sixth day that Moses gave the formal instructions on what to do on the sixth and seventh days.

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” ~Exodus 16:23

Do you think these people listened?  Do these people ever listen?  No.  They wanted more.  More, more, more, more, more!  God was literally raining food down upon them every single day.  Are they happy?  No.  They are faithless.  They disobey in an effort to control.  They want more than God is giving.  In their pride, they usurp God in their efforts to store up and provide for themselves.  It is outrageous.

Do you want to know what is even more outrageous?  What is even more outrageous is who God blames for it.

 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?…” ~Exodus 16:28

The Lord indicts Moses.  MOSES!!!

Moses was not disobeying.  Moses wasn’t rebelling or failing to believe and trust God.  Moses was doing everything he could to minister to these rebels.  Moses was speaking the very words of God and praying in faith that they would believe and obey.  How in the world does Moses get the blame?!

“Why did he say this to Moses?  He was not disobedient.  No, but he was the ruler of a disobedient people, and God charges it upon him that he might the more warmly charge it upon them, and might take care that their disobedience should not be through any neglect or default of his.” ~Matthew Henry

Moses was the leader of a disobedient people.  The responsibility is great when you are a leader in any capacity.  When you are a leader of an expressly disobedient and rebellious clan, the responsibility is greater still.  God is not in the business of overlooking sin without first having that thing examined carefully.  He brings correction and calls the guilty to account.  Judgement begins at the house of the Lord and God’s discipline works from the top, down, always.  The reason is because God is just and he will not have the unjust ruling in his stead.  If you want to lead God’s people, you best be prepared, not only to examine yourself, but to be thoroughly examined yourself.

It is interesting that we never see Moses arguing with God in this passage.  There is no mention of Moses’ innocence.  Moses never says, “Wait a minute, Lord, didn’t you see me resting?  Didn’t you see me trusting?  Didn’t you see me angry at the disobedience taking place in front of me?  Aren’t we homies?  Haven’t I obeyed?  What’s the deal?”

Perhaps the reason Moses never states his case is because he understands that a lack of clear and fitting correction when those closest to as well as underneath his jurisdiction were blatantly disobedient to God, that it was just as much his fault and responsibility to act; to speak; to correct; to admonish and he had not done so.

I don’t know.  What I do know is that if I were Moses and I felt completely and altogether innocent, I would have at least said so.  Moses never does.  Maybe that’s why he is often remembered as such an angry man.  Just sayin’.

Moses was, by all appearances, innocent in this instance, but God indicted him.  The seriousness of sin in those directly related to and in close communion with a leader of God’s people is very great.  For this reason, judgement falls first on the leader – despite his innocence – for a matter of principle established by God.  God did as much to his own son.  If a man would seek to bring salvation to a disobedient and rebellious people on behalf of God, he must both understand and accept the principle of owning blame that belongs not to himself.  This is the example we see here in Exodus 16:28.  This is the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Would you take the place of the guilty?  Your Savior did.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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humbleroots

“Here, in the middle of arguably the greatest sermon ever, Jesus talks about our daily worries, whatever they may be.  He talks about how we stress over food and clothing and how we obsess over our physical bodies.  At the same time, He doesn’t shame us for worrying about them.  He doesn’t tell us to just be grateful, to remember how much better we have it than other people.  He doesn’t tell us that we simply need to be more productive or to work harder.  Instead, He asks us whether our worry is actually accomplishing anything.” ~Hannah Anderson

Humble Roots is a book I found very personal, relatable, and real. Hannah uses a down to earth approach that kept me from wiggling out from under necessary confrontation by way of heady theology or intellectual disconnect. This book stopped me dead in my self-sufficient tracks, showed me that my britches are often far too big, and turned me back toward God before I even had a chance to argue with myself.

As I read Hannah’s stories of sowing, reaping, and harvesting I returned to my own bramble bushes of success, failure, blackberries, and tomatoes. Her everyday examples and honest transparency churned up the rocky and hard places in my heart by showing me a crystal clear picture of myself. As I read, I could feel my inconsistencies being challenged and corrected from the inside out. I felt her words changing me even before I was able to put my pride-soaked finger on why or how it happened. Humble Roots is truly a book I hope everyone I know has a chance to read.  If you plan to pick up this book, prepare to grow.

“And here is how humility brings rest to our internal life: Humility teaches us that ‘God is greater than our heart.’  Humility teaches us that we don’t have to obey our emotions because the only version of reality that matters is God’s.” ~Hannah Anderson

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eggs

I heard part of a sermon on marriage yesterday and something the man said, well, as my oldest daughter would say, “punched me in the face.” The preacher said, “Marriage provides the security to deny independence.”

As I drove on, I heard the concept of self-sufficiency come up three more times in different ways and I really felt that the Lord was pressing this idea upon my heart.

All I could think of was our culture’s obsession with individualism and independence.  Beyonce made a song about it a decade ago and I still cringe every time I hear it.  The message?  I do not need you, man.  I do not need anyone.  I can get it all on my own and I prefer to be that way.  Independence is power and I need nothing else.  Self-sufficiency and independence are not only idols, but gods of the majority in our culture today.

But what is the alternative?

Dependence.  Needing others.  Needing help.  Trusting another person with the deep things as well as the daily.  From finances to feelings, many marriages fall by bowing to the god of independence.  Dependence is not popular, at least not here in pull yourself up by your bootstraps, independent America.

It got me to thinking about not only my own marriage, but the fact that Christ chose the church to be his bride.  He chose marriage as the symbol of his relationship towards his people.  Dependence is a huge part of being a Christian.  Oops. There I go again saying things no one wants to hear.  The truth is that no one can be saved apart from total dependence on the work of Christ.  No one can live in line with the gospel apart from dependence on Christ.

I have two examples stirring in my mind to illustrate these realities: the insecure wife and the overprotective mom.

The Insecure Wife

I have never been a particularly good cook.  I’m not as bad as I used to be but, well, ok I suck at cooking for the most part.  I remember early in our marriage, my husband would often stop at his mom’s house to eat on the way home from work.  One could hardly blame him, and a lot of it was just part of transitioning from being a 19 year old at home to a 19 year old in his own home, but as a new wife it was very discouraging.  Often I would avoid cooking altogether because I did not want to risk rejection over it again.

As time went on and when I did cook, he would come into the kitchen and offer “suggestions.”  I am not sure if that was more or less worse than just not showing up, but it did not make for happy meals.  I would not take his advice because I was proud.  I would not take his advice because I was insecure.  Instead, I would get mad feeling like a failure and wondering why he just could not see my effort.

Now, when he walks into the kitchen and offers help, I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  I am grateful and welcoming his help.  I delegate as much as possible when my husband comes in to give me assistance.  When I place a meal in front of him – even if it is sub-par, he compliments and thanks me.

What changed?

The maturity level changed.  We stopped clinging to the independence and selfish rights we believed we had.  His suggestions transformed from condescension to servant-hood.  My focus changed from duty, obligation, and approval to how I can best please the one I love.

My error with cooking was one of inexperience, insecurity, and ignorance.  There is another way to err on the opposite side of this coin, though.  It is realized in trusting in self as well.  Have you ever seen a helicopter mom?

The Helicopter Mom

This is the overprotective mom who does absolutely everything for her (often only) child.  The child does not fail because mom never allows him to get that far on his own.  She does literally everything in order to “protect” him and create a facade of having a responsible child or, even, husband.

When a woman does this in her family, she frustrates and cripples her children.  She disrespects and emasculates her husband.  When she does this at work or in the church, she exacerbates those around her and they give up trying to contribute.  This woman does not understand that responsibility must be given in order to be learned.

There are many people who never get to maturity regarding dependence.  Both in marriage and in the church, we often get stuck in the “I need help but do not want it” martyrdom camp because of pride or insecurity or both.  We fail to realize that dependence is paramount.  It is never a matter of needing help vs. being able to do things individually as much as it is a matter of reflecting our dependence and need for Christ by recognizing our dependence and need for other people.  It is a rejection of the idol of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of a faith which requires humility.  Humility hears suggestions as help rather than hate or hurt.  This is counter-cultural.  No one is teaching their daughters to depend on a man these days – and perhaps for good reason.  No one is teaching women how to let their children fail for the greater good of learning responsibility anymore.  But the church must not forsake the practice of interdependence and learned responsibility based on cultural norms.

Maturity is often rooted in dependence.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  Dependence is often rooted in maturity.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  When we throw away the idols of insecurity, pride, approval, individualism, and self-centered thinking, our families – both church and home – will thrive.

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Blacklisted

black sheep

In a world where last names matter, I grew up a world class nobody.  It’s not who you are, it’s who you know, right?  Yeah.  By the time I realized that I was good enough – or better – than those taking their places ahead of me, I had a complex composed of discouragement and doubt.  I had always assumed I was not qualified because I had not been encouraged in my talents or picked by the powers that be.  Even the small voice telling me I know better was silenced by disillusionment.  You’re Lori.  You’re difficult.  You’re disliked.  You have no place.  No one wants to deal with you.

 In my pride, I did not care.  In my misery, I cared far too much.

Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how smart you are.  It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much you care.  It’s not even about how hard you work or how well you serve.  When you’re that girl nothing – not discipline, not diligence, not honest dialogue – will ever make any difference.  Wherever you go, you will always be that same girl.  The outcast.

I have come to learn at this stage I call mid-life that certain people are seen in certain ways.  Once you are labeled one way or another, nothing you can do or say can ever bring redemption.  Call it blacklisting, if you will.  There’s always a black sheep in the family.  For some reason, (likely my own sin) it’s usually me.  In the eyes of those who have made up their minds about your undesirability and insignificance, there is simply no deliverance. And I guess that’s ok.  If this is who God created me to be then so be it.  I do have to admit that being Lori is harder some days than others, though.

I lack confidence across the board.  Confidence from the Latin words “con” (with) and “fidere” (faith).  With faith.  Aha.  There’s my real issue.  If I couldn’t put my finger on it before, it is crystal clear now.  I lack confidence because I lack faith.

Redemption.  I am among the redeemed.  Christ has paid for all my black sheep blame and made me spotless.  I know who I am.  I know I have infinite purpose.  I know my worth.  So why do I still struggle so with confidence?

I believe it is the same reason I find myself struggling with jealousy.  I am not jealous materially.  I am jealous relationally.

Because I have so often felt rejected and unwanted in life, it is hard for me to believe that I am chosen by God.  It is hard for me to believe I am chosen by anyone.  I have a negative self-image reinforced by those who have made me the girl that will always be the unchosen outsider no matter what I say or do.  How often I hear people talk about how Jesus loves, forgives, and wants to know us personally!  How often that rhetoric, albeit true, is followed by actions that prove that they do not.

Therefore, after another mediocre jog through the neighborhood, I have come to find that I am jealous.  I want to be included.  I want relationships that other people have.  I want to be useful, and purposeful, and helpful, but I am always wondering why I often still feel so uninvited.  I am struggling with the tenth commandment.  “Thou shall not covet.”  Unlike the other commands from God which deal primarily with outward actions, this one focuses primarily on thought.  Little wonder why it is my problem.  Little Lori has always lived inside her head.

Pride and jealousy are married.  False confidence is their offspring.  Faith and redemption are married.  True confidence is theirs.  My prayer is that the thoughts of my heart turn away from discouragement, loneliness, self-pity, pride, and jealousy to faith and confidence in Him.  Amen.

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lovejesus

I’ve been thinking on yesterday’s sermon on John 21:15-25 considering why it is that Jesus asked Peter whether he loved him.  Why did he ask so many times?  Aside from the comparison to the thrice denied Christ by Peter, was there another reason for such questioning?  Didn’t Jesus know Peter loved him?  Of course he did. Even Peter said as much. So why?

Jesus’ interrogation was for Peter’s sake.  It was for our sake.  Jesus’ is showing us something about how to love.  He is showing us what the love of God looks like, both by restoring an unlovable failure and by teaching him what love looks like in the face of his failure.

Christ is conveying these truths about how we must love by telling Peter to feed his lambs (twice), tend his sheep, and adding that no one else’s call is relevant to his call which is to simply follow him:

Loving me is other-centered, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a popularity contest, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a power trip Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with pride, Peter Lori.

Loving me is sacrificial service, Peter Lori.

Loving me is willingness to suffer, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with competition and comparison, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with your leading, Peter Lori.

Loving me is following wherever I lead, Peter Lori.

These are the things you failed to understand before.  That is why you fell.

Peter had grief over this interaction.  He had a certain sadness over Jesus’ questioning and doubtless his own culpability and regret.  He still had questions and some residual contest with his contemporaries in this heart.  Still, Peter was changed.  He was humbled.  By the power of God, Peter did follow Christ and change the world through his restored witness.

The grace displayed by God and the gospel toward Peter here is tremendous.  I know because the grace displayed by God and the gospel towards me, too, is tremendous.

I have been a doubter, a denier, an egotist, and a bombastic, just like Peter.  I look back with grief and a certain sadness.  When the Lord reveals the hard parts of his plan, I still pine over senseless questions about fairness and folly sprouting from a sinful nature .  I don’t know about Peter, but my biggest fear is falling away again.  What if my call is that which I find most unfavorable?  What if his love isn’t enough to keep me and what if I don’t really love him the way I think I do; the way I want to; the way he calls me to?

Foolish doubts and fears rooted in distrust and unbelief are silenced by the truth.  I know that he is the sustainer of all things, including my salvation.  I will not fear.

For Peter, martyrdom and death was the fear that caused his betrayal.  Peter’s restoration is proof that perseverance is possible.  He was afraid to die when he denied Christ, but later he died indeed for Christ by the power of God.

The love of God changes people.  It makes the unwilling, willing; the unloving, loving; the prideful, humble; the doubting, trust.  Our hope is found in forgetting our failures, formulas, fears, and trusting him to keep us from falling.  Our hope is found in following Christ wherever he leads.

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crunchy

I’m into health and natural alternatives as much as (probably more) than the average American mommy.  I exercise daily.  I try to eat relatively healthy.  I home school.  I nursed.  I opt for a homeopath, supplements, and essential oils before a traditional doctor and pharmaceutical drugs whenever possible.  I even used cloth diapers for three whole months with my first baby.

But…yes, my kids and I still eat fast food on occasion.  Even though I think midwives are neat, I gave birth in the hospital.  I eat already baked and sliced bread.  All of my children were vaccinated.  My kids eat candy.  (Isn’t that what candy is for?!)  I don’t usually buy organic.  My babies only slept in my room until they started eating solid foods – about four months old.

So what?  Why am I telling you all this?  Well, it seems that there is an ever growing culture of holistic women who will read this and balk.  If they know me, they will begin devising a plan on how best to show me my sins.  Call it part of the mommy wars or just plain arrogance, but either way I feel like someone needs to blow the whistle.

Before I get my foot stuck too far into my mouth, I must say that I do realize that some crunchy moms mean very well.  I understand that when we find good things that work well for our families, we often want to share them.  We want others to be helped as much as we are.  We want them to feel as good as we do about our lifestyle decisions.  I think that’s great, noble even.  It is good to share ideas and help one another become better…however…

I do have one question gnawing in my mind for these gatekeepers of world wellness.  Like I said, I’m into health and natural alternatives as much as the average American mommy.  But my question and biggest concern for this group is, “Is it ok if I am not?”  Because it often feels like these women’s eyes bulge when I see them in the grocery store and I have Fruity Pebbles, pre-sliced white Wonder bread, and disposable diapers in my buggy.  Since when did making ultra natural decisions for our own families become a woman’s pass to be a power hungry police lady of all the rest of us – complete with guilt trip lectures and constant hinting reminders that we aren’t doing things as right as they?  I don’t know.

I believe it is good to encourage wellness, whatever that looks like and is working for your family.  But I also believe that there is an extreme over proselytization going on from the holistic community these days.  It reminds me of Christians who point disgusted, condescending fingers at unbelievers every chance they get and then expect converts.  I don’t know.  I just think conversion – in both wellness and Christianity – is much more natural – dare I say “organic” than that.

Here’s my advice for those who most like to share advice with the rest of we defiled citizens.  Ask yourself whether you really care about me and my family.  Find out why my health matters to you.   Does it?  Or could it be that pointing at me makes you feel proud and superior?   If you come to the conclusion that you genuinely love me, great.  Stop preaching at me.  Instead, hang out with us.  Bring your kids over to play with mine.  Show me how you do things by your example and let me determine for myself whether it is better.  I will ask you questions because you are different.  I will notice if you are healthy and your family is thriving and mine is not.  Give me some dignity and I will listen to you.  Otherwise, I just feel like you think I’m a jerk and a failure.  Maybe you do and maybe I am, but love does not approach that way does it?

Wait, would you hang out with me?   If you did, would I be a project or a person?  Ask yourself how you came to the conclusions you did.  Was it by force, shaming, and nagging?  Or was it something else that changed you?

Lastly, accept that people make different decisions for their family and stop looking down your nose at them for it.  Love them anyway and celebrate your differences.  A world where everyone is the same would be terribly boring, wouldn’t it?

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