I hid in my room, swiveling in my cushy orange rocker. Lord, is this pride I’m battling? Do I really need to apologize or was my firmness called for? Am I being selfish or do I have good reason to draw lines?
I remembered a question from some sermon from my youth. “Do you know what the middle letter is in the word pride? I. Pride is when I am at the center.” A good point. Obviously, one that had stuck with me. But, was it accurate? What mom has any pride left? I mean really! Our dignity vanished rather soon in the process.
I spent many evenings sitting in my sanity rocker, trying to sort through this. Maybe earlier in the day I had exploded at a child. Maybe I had stood my ground and said, “No you may not come into my room … share my cookie … or look in my purse.”
It’s such a fine balance, isn’t it, between selfishness and self-preservation … between pride and protection? How do you discern when you’re sinning or when you’re actually drawing wise boundaries?
It’s no easy answer. And every woman answers this differently. These are some ways I learned to evaluate my motives:
• Know yourself—your limits. What’s going to tip you over the edge? What could have a negative impact on your health? What’s going to prove worse for the family in the end?
• Know your kids. Are your boundaries for their best in the long run? Does saying no teach them restraint? Does saying yes teach them indulgence?
• Talk to someone who knows you and your kids. My husband rarely got wrapped up in the emotional turmoil I experienced. He supported me completely while maintaining an objective perspective. Frankly, most of the time he could see that the boundaries were crucial. If he wasn’t available, I had other adoptive moms I could ask.
The bottom line is be very real with yourself and with the Lord. That means don’t be afraid. I think what got in the way of me being able to discern my motives was fear I was messing up in a big way. I didn’t want to apologize because I was afraid it meant I was a horrible person. I didn’t want to take an honest look at pride because I was afraid it meant I would have to become a doormat to my kids. So much of my anguish was wrapped up in fear instead of freedom.
It took years for me to realize that pride is mostly likely driven by fear. In fact, what appears to be pride usually is fear. I actually found relief in this. Pride was a confusing animal to confront. But fear? I knew what to do with that.
You see, we have a Savior who defeated all our enemies. We have a Father who welcomes us into His safe embrace. We have His word that said 365 times (literally) fear not.
Whatever it is we fear becomes our master. So what are you a slave to today? You know we have a choice? We can surrender to our fears and let pride claim our hearts. Or, we can surrender to the Lord and let His peace and purposes reign.
Surrender to God. Isn’t that what humility really is? Humility isn’t groveling, or laying down as a doormat. No, humility is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ.
It begins with trusting in His perfect, loving will so we can listen to the Holy Spirit. Humility, then, allows us to obey from a position of security, confidence, and freedom.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7,8, and 10, NIV)