Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ignorance (2 of 7)

I used to think that being prideful was just about being arrogant - being egotistical or thinking I was better than someone else. So I've never thought of myself as having an issue with pride - since I don't think of myself as better or smarter than anyone else. But only recently, I've come to realize that doesn't mean I don't actually any problems in this area.

It's just that my pride is wrapped in other things.

Self-awareness is a beautiful thing. I guess this is why Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living.

For one thing, I see how pride is directly connected to my anger. When I get really frustrated at something, it's mostly about me being inconvenienced. Like last night when that guy was sitting in the long line of cars at the light in the right-hand lane, and seeing the left lane open, he cut me off by switching into my (fairly empty) lane, even though I was tooling down that lane doing about 55 mph. I can pretend that I'm righteously indignant at his display of poor judgment and how he was endangering lives. But we all know I just wanted to be pissed off because I had to hit the brakes and drop my speed by about 20 mph. He inconvenienced me.

Of course, when something like this happens, the first words that pop in my head are stupid moron. Well, the language in my head is at times a bit more colorful, but that's confession for another day. I guess I'm pretty judgmental. Not in the way I normally think of people as judgmental. I don't tend to be like that from a moral or religious standpoint. It's more like the above example. Or, I'll think someone's stupid if they take 20 minutes to make me a coffee at Books a Million, or give me cheese and no pickles instead of no cheese and extra pickles on my hamburger in the drivethru. It's sad, really, because the ironic thing is that I think that I come across as judgmental in a completely different way. I know I'm often perceived as overly critical and condescending (and that I think I'm smarter than other people). For example, just the other day Krista was sending out an e-mail to a friend in Jackson, Tennessee who lives close to where all those tornados hit. But in the e-mail, she spelled it "tornadoes". I wanted to tell her it was wrong - that there was no "e" in "tornados". I mean - I'd want to know. Wouldn't everybody? I think when I'm in that kind of mode - the "helping people by correcting their spelling or their grammar, or their mistaken grasp of the facts" that people think I'm condescending. Or that I'm somehow smarter than them. I'm not trying to be - I'm really just trying to help. But I know how it comes across. (And, by the way, I've since looked it up and found that both spellings - tornadoes and tornados - are acceptable. Sorry, Boost.)

I can also see how pride is wrapped up in my attitude. I can be negative at times. I'm sure it's not something Krista's ever really noticed. I hide it well.

Not really.

But a complaining spirit totally focuses on myself. What annoys me? What do I not like? What can I not stand? I actually tried to stop complaining for a day or two. A while ago, some good friends gave me one of those Complaint Free World bracelets. I had to take it off after a day - you're supposed to stop complaining, but you move your bracelet to the other arm when you do. I gave up moving the bracelet after about an hour because moving the bracelet every few minutes just got annoying. I think I'm going to have to dig that bracelet out again.

This came as a surprise to me, but I think even being wracked with self-esteem issues is a pride thing. What - you think you're prideful because you have a negative self-esteem and you lack self-confidence? Well, yeah...mainly because when you have a negative self-esteem, you're thinking about yourself way too much. This is why I don't think thinking positive about myself is the right cure for thinking negative about myself. They both involve thinking of myself too much.

So pride, for me isn't about being boastful or egotistic. It's about being a little too self-centered and self-focused when it comes to my daily life. So maybe I can change some practices during this season of Lent and be more focused on others, and more focused on God.

OK, this post went way longer than I planned. I guess this really is an issue for me in more ways than I thought...


  1. Very well said Jim. I hear what you are saying completely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We can all learn from them.

  2. Thanks, Julie - I appreciate that. It's good to know that maybe some good can come from my mistakes :)