pride monster

“… ?”

i hadn’t heard the first part of the question very clearly, but there was no mistaking the last phrase (or so i assumed; our conversations could get lost in translation between chinese accents and american ears. i only spoke two words of chinese, after all, and those shyly). i hurried to set the matter straight.

“oh no,” i said, feeling the tips of my ears flaming and knowing they must be fiery red by now. “that’s not how it is at all.”

“oh really?” she sounded surprised. why did she sound surprised? “i just thought …”

well, you thought wrong, i replied internally, although i wasn’t actually angry with her. slightly mortified at the conclusion to which she’d seemingly jumped, perhaps. but not angry. certainly not.

— — — — —

embarrassment, mortification, anger … why do we have these responses at being misunderstood? one of my friends talked a little about it a couple of sundays ago when leading a discussion in the adult equipping class before church. criticism and suffering, he said, are two key revealers of what we’re really trusting in or seeking approval from in place of God.  misunderstanding is sort of like criticism because our reaction can so easily be “how could that person possibly think i would do that or say that or… ” you fill in the action. we’re all wrapped up in what other people think of us that their good (or factually correct) opinion becomes the most important thing. it’s the monster of pride (“me first, me first! i want to be king!”) rearing its ugly head again.

to “mortify,” after all, means to subdue or deaden something. when someone misunderstands or misrepresents us, if we’re relying on ourselves or others for our approval, then that prideful image gets stomped on. if, on the other hand, our identity is grounded in the punishment Christ bore for us on the cross and how God is transforming us day by day to be more like His Son … well, we can laugh off little misunderstandings. in the end, what someone else might think of us doesn’t matter, considering how God sees us — as beloved children.

— — — — —

so i stewed and fretted for a while over this and other perceived misunderstandings. after a while, God kindly asked me why i was fretting.

“i was misunderstood!” i cried, so very chagrined.

then He helped me to see i was being so touchy because a bit of innocent confusion had merely revealed the state my heart was in all along. my eyes were on me the whole time — not on Him — so it was little wonder i bristled when my white-washed hidden motives were seemingly besmirched. i made mountains where there were clearly molehills, had i cared to look. doesn’t pride make us do the most silly, grotesque things?

i don’t like being embarrassed or reminded of my sin, but it’s good so that i can be reminded of how stupid pride really is. so this was a lesson i appreciated learning, after all.