Pride and humility

Hello my irreplaceable girls. I love you.

My thoughts for today are just ginormous. Ginormous because this is an area that has cast a gray cloud over far too many years of my life. Pride. Pride is this sneaky thing that affects us without us even knowing it. It ultimately pushes us to reject feedback, continuously affirm our ways and run a continuous internal loop of why we are “better” than other people. It’s just nasty.

I lived in this ugly space for a very long time. I was blessed to have grown up a strong athlete. As such, I won many awards, had my name in the paper often and received regular comments on how great I was. This lasted all the way through college. I was a D1 scholarship athlete at a major university. Pretty sweet huh? Walking around campus in all the free sports-wear drew many admirers. Then, I earned my undergraduate degree and MBA in only five years (super impressive, right)? Then, I got a great job at an unbelievable company and was making six figures in my mid-20s (wait, there’s more)! I was being rated in the top 15% amongst all these other super smart employees that had also nabbed a job where 99% of applicants were rejected. Can you even believe how awesome I was? Whenever I told people where I worked, I usually got an instant nod of respect. Well, shamefully I let all this external hoop-la to result in superficial, sole-hiding, ugly pride. 

I didn’t see it at the time, but disgracefully, all these accomplishments led me to look down on others. I thought a colleague that left the job to be a full-time mom just couldn’t hack a corporate career. I thought the massage therapist I studied with at the National Personal Training Institute must not have had it in her to get a “real” degree. After leaving my head-inflating corporate career, I didn’t understand why several applications I had floated out didn’t immediately result in interviews.

Looking back, this all just makes me want to simultaneously scream and turn back the clock for a do-over. Yes, I worked so unbelievably hard for my accomplishments, and I’m super proud of myself. I’m genuinely proud of my hard work and discipline. You should absolutely feel proud of anything you’ve poured your heart into.  What you must fiercely guard against is shifting your focus internally. Never judge. Never allow your accomplishments to blind you from seeing the value in others. Pride is nasty and nonsensical for two important reasons.

First, and most importantly, we are the beneficiaries of God’s infinite blessings.  Your intellect, heart, imagination, competitiveness, athleticism and all the other wonderful qualities you possess come from your creator. While it’s up to us to use these gifts fully, we must be careful to not take much credit for our strengths and accomplishments. Born to a different family, in a different community, with any number of challenges beyond our control could drastically reduce pride-inducing culprits.  

The second reason pride is so ugly is its direct opposition to perhaps the greatest of all human traits: humility. Humility is defined as having a modest view of one’s own importance. At first glance, this doesn’t seem terribly desirable. Of course, you are important! But every sole on this Earth is as well. Bill Nye once said, “Every person you come across knows something you don’t.” How wonderfully true! If you lack humility, you will never become your best because you will fail to appreciate and learn from the plethora of knowledge and experience surrounding you. Compelling still, humility brings freedom. You don’t have to know it all. You can make mistakes and learn from them. You don’t have to be perfect. Nobody wants to spend time with a know-it-all who specializes in one-way conversations. Alternatively, someone who is open, seeks to learn, is willing to change their view, who says sorry . . . in other words, someone who is humble . . . she is utterly attractive. Some people think humility is to be small, downplay yourself or lack confidence. Not so. Valuing others takes nothing away from how amazing you are. You see, it’s not a game of who’s better, more accomplished or more impressive. It actually takes strength to exhibit humility. You must know in your gut the wonderful person that you are without the need to prop yourself up via comparison. In fact, those who are humble have the most influence because authenticity is powerfully magnetic.  

A nearly instant one-eighty from six-figure earning professional to full-time mom snapped me out of my delusion, thank God. I started to pay more attention to others. I grew a genuine appreciation for all the moms who selflessly delivered meals to others, volunteered to put on the vacation bible school and gave up invaluable time to provide resources to our schools. I was able to look beyond myself long enough to see the value folks, who took all different kinds of paths, were adding all over the place. I am so thankful God used that time in my life to shake some sense into me.  And that massage therapist – she is one of the strongest, most disciplined, amazing people I have come across. She has her life together far more than I ever have.

And so my precious girls, seek to live in the space of confident humility. Have confidence in yourself, your work ethic and your gifts while internalizing that these gifts, and your worth, come from God alone. Be proud of who you are while capitalizing on any opportunity to get to know and learn from the amazingness of others. That is the sweetest spot.

All My Love, Mom

P.S. Do you remember the book “Rainbow Fish” we read when you were little? It’s a great little story about how the beautiful Rainbow fish learns what true happiness is all about when he lets go of his pride. We should dig it up if you decide to have littles.

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