Saturday, November 6, 2010

Living with Oneself

I hate the way I act sometimes often.

Or, if not the way I act, then certainly the way I think. The things I think are loathsome. I am very fortunate in that I have good grounding, so that awful thoughts remain only awful thoughts; but keeping awful thoughts unspoken doesn't make them any less contemptible. And I have so many contemptible thoughts that sometimes they ooze out of my ears.

What I'm talking about is pride, folks. I got it, and I got it bad.

This very blog is a monument to my prodigious powers of self-involvement. I have a Facebook page which I update almost daily. This Facebook page is connected to my phone, so that I am never out of touch with my friends. My pursuit of a writing career is predicated wholly on my belief that I can be good, and better, and eventually best in my field. Everything I think, say, write, and do is carefully crafted to make me feel superior: you see, I do my best in everything so that I can look back later and say, "Oh, hey. I'm awesome."

The worst part about my sickness is the way that I'll downplay it in my own mind. When I post about being published, I rationalize it by saying that it's so Mom can see it. When I write pieces (which I, depraved and fallen human that I am, consider to be deep and meaningful) and make them available online, I tell myself it is because I want to share my thoughts with others. Most despicable of all, whenever I hear someone bragging about what they have done, or how magnificent they are--and, heaven help me, I hear that every day--I think quietly, "That's not too impressive. I could have done that." And then, because I am even more twisted than I can possibly describe, I think: "At least I don't grandstand the way that they do."

As I said: I've got it bad.

By this point you're asking, "What makes a well-behaved Christian boy berate himself online for his pride?" What precipitates this blog post, you ask? Simple: I was strutting and someone called me on it.

My immediate response to the critique was sarcastic. My response to honest critiques is always sarcastic. I think, on some level, my subconscious believes that if I can beat the critic into submission using only my words, then none of their shots count. Argument, in my mind, is a winner-take-all game. The loser failed because none of their points were valid, right?

The initial salvo wasn't the worst, though. After I had responded to their (extraordinarily well-deserved) criticism, my brain kept going. I imagined, for several seconds, how I could destroy them with my words. Before I could stop myself, I'd constructed three or four heartless diatribes that all ended with "and that's why you suck!"

I held my tongue, of course. I do not have the guts (or the mercilessness--I hope) to deliver a prepared "Why You Suck at Life and Will Never Experience Lasting Happiness (and Why All Your Pets Will Die Prematurely)" speech to anyone. So I filed away my cruel polemic, walked away...and then congratulated myself on my self-control.

I have failed the test of humility forever, folks. There, I said it.

Now, I wish that being able to admit to this disease made it any less serious, but it doesn't. Knowing you're sick with pride does absolutely nothing for you, my friends. Not until you have the juevos to act on what you know. Even then, human nature won't let you get away with humility. Every good thought, every benevolent word, every righteous deed will make a quiet, slithery voice in the back of your mind say, "Well, that was wonderful. Good job, Me. You make an excellent human being."

C.S. Lewis and the Bible count pride as the deadliest of sins, and up until recently I didn't really understand why. Pride, as I am beginning to understand, is not mere vanity. Nor is it hollow conceit. Pride is the simple and subtle act of mentally replacing God with yourself; pride is the natural human tendency to attribute their actions to their aptitude; pride is thinking that you are Something Important not because God finds you valuable but because You Are Awesome.

What's the cure? Simple to say and nearly impossible to do: forgetting about yourself. Don't fool yourself: humility does not consist of constantly repeating, "I'm really not that great." Those words are empty. Rather, lose yourself in God. A man cannot possibly learn pride when he is so entangled with his Lord that he can't be sure where God's arm stops and his own begins.


  1. What a powerful post, thanks for your honesty and encouragement to all of us. We all have it bad, so in the famous words of Flatirons - Me too.
    It is such a great experience to watch God working in and through your life. This post is evidence of you becoming the man God has planned for you to be. He is growing you up right before my eyes. You are no longer a christian boy but rather a man, a man of God. In my opinion the greatest difference between arrogance and humility is acknowledging that it's not about any of us. It's all about HIM, you are who you are, with the gifts and talents HE gave you, only because of who HE is. None of us created our own giftedness, acknowledging Him in whatever we are able to accomplish, thanking Him for every "final product". Knowing that without Him we are capable of nothing. He gave you amazing gifts and talents. He wants to use you as a powerful tool to communicate His amazing love, to a world full of people who don't know just how much He loves them. Keep letting Him shine through you. We are seeing His love shining through you. We love you Chan, keep living for His glory.