Around the holidays my pride flares up in nuanced ways. It’s subtle, and you could even say it’s harmless but I assure you it’s not. As I’ve thought about it more, I’ve realized that I’m trying to be better than others — and it’s exhausting. Yep, I’m talking about the ugly kind of pride.
For example, I really want to give each of my family members and friends the perfect gift without breaking the bank.
Oh! and I also want to show up to get-togethers clean (without baby spit-up in my hair or clothes), with a homemade food/dish that I’m proud of, and with my kiddos smiling, happy, and excited to see every single person there. This is completely wishful thinking and I’m laughing at myself as I write this, but in all reality, don’t we all want to show up “merry and bright”? It subtly boosts our pride, makes us feel good, and Lord help us if anything or anyone gets in our way.
Let the car ride battles commence
In our marriage, Ryan and I have noticed that holiday tension really shows its face in our car rides, mainly because my pride starts showing it’s ugly face. A typical car ride looks like this: after rushing around the house for the previous hour or so, in an attempt to ensure everyone is properly clothed (ideally in clean clothes, but hey, we do what we can), fed, and all the “things” we need to take are packed. The littles are usually singing, crying, or shouting (apparently there’s no volume control on toddlers OR babies??). We get in the car, buckle everyone up, and start driving. We can both take a breath — except we turned the wrong way out of the driveway and it starts…
Me: “Ah! I think we’re suppose to go that way? It’s shorter to the freeway.”
Ryan: (one of two responses typically) “Just let me drive please, I’ve been doing it for a while now.” or “Ok, but why did you wait to tell me until now!?”
Me (frazzled and yet trying to remain patient): “Well, we wouldn’t be late if maybe you would’ve kept an eye on the clock. Why did you get in the shower when you knew we had to leave in 10 minutes?” — I really try to say this in the nicest tone possible, but I will admit, my frustration shows and Ryan can always read my tone.
Ryan: “I thought I had time because…” something something something – he goes into an explanation but I stopped listening and he knows it.
Me (good tone completely out the door): “Can you just watch the clock and start getting ready earlier so we aren’t scrambling out the door? I always –“
Ryan (interrupts): “ALWAYS?”
(He doesn’t like blanket statements, which is why I used it, but it still seems like ALWAYS to me).
Me: “I know, but I have to get myself and the girls ready, so I need your help when we are all trying to get out the door!”
Ryan: “I DO help! I did this, that, and the other thing…”
(again, I’m not really listening…)
Me: [Insert argument fuel here.]
We argue/discuss a bit longer and it usually ends with silence, one of us concedes (a bit), and once we’ve arrived at our destination, but before we get out, we typically apologize, because it’s hard enough not feeling like you’re on the same team, especially heading in to spend time with a group of people; family or friends, for me, I need to make sure the air is clear between Ryan and I before we go anywhere or do anything else.
After both agreeing to extend grace and be “better” next time, we gather up our brood and head on our way.
I know this doesn’t seem like a huge marital dispute, but it very much illustrates the pride that resides in the areas of my heart that I have not yet surrendered to the gospel.
Failure runs deep
For me, if I fail in these areas, I tend to feel it deeper than I should. Why? Because this pride is linked to my heart which is a part of my soul and when pride blinds my soul, it’s easy to lash out at my husband (and kids). Instead of seeking Jesus and asking for his grace to drown out my pride in those ugly moments, I tend to draw rash conclusions and feel like I’m unreachable – I’m in a broken, dark, ugly place where no one wants to come help me, let alone my King.
But He is so faithful and loving to remind me of how many times he’s met me here before. Not only me, but others: A blind man, a sick child, a hungry crowd — a lost world?
Seek first His kingdom, not my own
So how do I brush off being late to a family event or bringing store-bought cookies to a mommy get-together where I know I might be the only mom who didn’t actually make the cookies?
I remember Jesus.
I remember His love and grace that meet me where I’m at — in all my pride and faults — and he lovingly reaches his nail scarred-hands into my heart and says,
“Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
Jesus reminds me of my value in him. He reminds me that my relationship with people/family is more important than the food I bring or the clothes our family is dressed in. Not to say we Frederick’s don’t do our best to look presentable and somewhat festive for the holidays because that is all good, but when my pride begins to attach my heart to those things – that is where I need to be reminded of Jesus’ great love.
My fierce friends, if I could encourage you in anything this holiday season it would be to remember your King who was born and came down to earth explicitly for broken sinners like me and you. Remember your Savior who took human form and graciously entered humanity… to restore our relationship with God.
Let consumerism take a back seat — in fact, roll down the window and toss it to the curb. Let expectations melt away like early snow. And instead of striving to appear “perfect” this Christmas, remember that Christ came to heal imperfect people — the sick — not those who had it all together (Luke 5:32).
You are completely loved, totally forgiven, fully accepted ,and highly valued in Christ. Let’s remember Him as we celebrate this year. When we do, harmful pride will seem more and more ridiculous while Christ’s joy will flood every aspect of Christmas…and he is truly cause for celebration.