Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm so proud of you.....

The  dictionary describes pride as a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
It seems somewhat egotistical to be proud of one's one achievements but most would think it admirable to be proud of another person's achievements...but is pride ever okay and what should we really be proud of in ourselves and in others???
And why on earth am I talking about this here on this blog???  Well I've been doing some self exploration.  I began reading My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasie Cannon and have really been looking at why I doubt myself, why I think I can't be successful at things, where the wounds in my heart are and how I can trust God to heal them.  Something that has come up through this is the positive comments/compliments of others and why they can be hard to take...and why, sometimes, they should not be said.  How this ties in to my typical themes of this blog..well, hang on, we'll get to that.
In one sense I don't want to be prideful, don't want to think highly of my own accomplishments and yet at other times I know that I need to recognize far more often what I have accomplished so that I can look more positively at myself and stop loathing so many things about me.  I decided to do some research into what the bible says about pride. 
There is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates - Proverbs 8:13. 
To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance,evil behavior and perverse speech and the kind of pride we feel about a job well done. The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness is sin, and God hates it because it gets in the way of us seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so focused on themselves that their thoughts are far from God: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
This type of consuming pride is the opposite of the humbleness God seeks from us.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their brokenness, how destitute they are spiritually and realize that it is by God's divine grace alone that they will come to Him. The proud, on the other hand, are so blinded by themselves and their accomplishments and possessions that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance. 
In Proverbs 16:18-19  we learn the consequences of a prideful nature....
18 Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
    than to share plunder with the proud.
And Satan was cast out of Heaven for his pride....
Isaiah 14: 12-15
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[b]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit.
A constant stumbling block for prideful people is admitting sin and acknowledging that in their own strength they can do nothing to inherit eternal life.  We are not to boast about ourselves; if we want to boast, then we are to proclaim the glories of God. What we say about ourselves means nothing in God’s work. It is what God says about us that makes the difference. 
I have made this mistake over and over again.  I have pridefully spoke of the things I have accomplished, like my success at fundraising for Mt. Sinai or my weight loss, but in those 'announcements' I have not given God the credit.  The ideas for how to raise the funds for Mt. Sinai were seeds that God planted in my head.  One of the biggest success stories I have for our fundraising was a 100% Holy Spirit moment.  I prayed one day for some ideas about how to get healthier, or rather, what was the reason for getting healthier, for working harder physically.  I hated running, wondered why anyone would want to do it and yet I suddenly found myself writing down that I was going to learn to run and then organize a run to raise funds.  That was God.  
Pride is sinful because it is giving ourselves the credit for something that God done. Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us.. That is why we give God the glory—He alone deserves it.
So that kind of covers why I shouldn't be 'proud' of what I have done but rather pleased that God gave me the strength, knowledge, courage and dedication to do these things.  So as long as I keep that, not just in my mind but also on my lips, giving Him the credit, then I should be fine. Right???
Well maybe.  But you see the problem for me with pride is not just that I take credit that isn't mine alone but it's also that how to accept, graciously, the feeling of pride that others have in your accomplishments.  And even more so, expressing to that person that, while you appreciate their compliments and acknowledgments, you are not deserving of the credit on your own for one but also that, sometimes, they need to look deeper into our life and be 'prouder' of other things.  In other words, the things that they are telling you they are proud of you for doing might possibly be pretty superficial and not the things that reflect on your character.
And this is how this blog post ties to my usual themes.
You see I have a very hard time recognizing my own accomplishments in regards to my health and my weight loss.  And rightfully so lately since I've gained back 15+ lbs of what I had lost (and their I go beating myself up again and allowing the enemy to infiltrate my thoughts). But I also know that I have accomplished far greater things then losing 50 ish pounds, becoming more active and learning to run.  Some of those things I touched on already... the Holy Spirit came to me and pushed me to learn to run, to become healthier so that I could use that skill to raise funds for a place that is so very important to me.  But far more then that is what I have overcome, what I have done with my life in the last 5 years, who I have become in that time.  That should stand out far above shouldn't it.
The book encourages me to have 'conversations' with my inner self, with the doubtful voices in my head, with those who have either planted those doubts or who have not looked deeply enough to see the inner me and, of course, conversations with God.
One of these conversations left me spent, in tears and yet at a place of peace and I have decided to share part of it here as a next step in the healing process, in the learning to love myself for the beautiful child of God that I am, in the journey to see myself as the Lord sees me...
"Please do not think that I don't appreciate your compliments or support.  But you need to know how much it hurts when you only acknowledge to 'outer me'.  I have hated my body for so many years.  I have felt I was never good enough, that I didn't measure up in so many ways.  I did things to make myself 'BE' that not good enough person...that little girl, teenage girl, young adult, young wife, young mother.  If I wasn't good enough then I might as well look the part and eat what I want, when I want, in whatever quantity I want.  I might as well date the idiot losers that treat me like crap...because that is all I deserve.  I might as well engage in behaviour that makes me feel loved by the them and yet hated by myself for giving in, giving up things I thought I valued.  I might as well live in a cluttered, disorganized and sometimes down right dirty house because I was never able to clean well, to organize why start now.  I might as well give up on this diet...I've stopped losing weight and I miss yummy food so why starve myself of pleasure when I can't stick to it anyway and it's doing no good to try. 
So many things that I did to become the person I thought I was..if that makes sense. 
And then things changed.  First for the worse. I lost Cole, I grieved for him instead of celebrating Cameron and living with my 'live' children.  I ate and ate and ate to fill the void that was in my heart.  I cried tears of sadness, shame and anger. 
But deep inside a stirring was happening.  I longing for better things, for bigger things.  For hope.
That hope started to rise, above all the crap I thought about me, all the doubt.  It rose and it rose and came out in beautiful words, in messages of support, in blog posts.  That hope brought me thoughts of giving back for all that Mt. Sinai gave us.  That hope drove me to start groups for support and to share my story for reasons that were no longer selfish, no longer about putting a pity focus on me.
The hope pushed me forward and suddenly I began to look at photos of myself and realize how much I hated that outer me. 
And so I changed the outer me.  I ate well.  I gave up 'fun food'.  I kept my focus and the weight came off. 
But the thing you dont't know is that about this time my world crashed again and I doubted my marriage and listened to lie after lie that the enemy told me.  I spent hours walking (and losing weight too) just to avoid dealing with my life.
But then Jesus did this amazing thing.  He opened up my heart, He opened up my eyes, He opened up my ears.  I began to feel a change in me, a peace that I had never known possible.  I began to walk away from those who judge, to stop trying so hard to please them and work instead to please Him.
 The words of encouragement flowed faster and faster.  The blog posts grew deeper and deeper.  And the support I offered others grew and grew. 
And yes, I shrank and shrank. I became more fit. I became more healthy on the outside.
But it wasn't the outside that made the difference.  It was the inside.
I diverged a bit here but the point is that I overcame the worst thing a mother can experience, I turned tragedy into hope, I found a way out of deep pit of darkness, found hope and peace in helping others and, thanks to Jesus, I found my way to being healthy enough, focused enough, strong enough, to take our story and use it to help raise thousands of dollars for Mt. Sinai.  Those are things that matter, those are the things to be pleased about.
I don't 'want' to be proud of any of that but I know that God gave me the strength to do all of that, he gave me the focus, the ideas and the motivation. 
When you focus on the outer me you make me feel like the inner me isn't important, like it isn't even seen, like the only thing worth being proud of is the way I look.  And I wish it wasn't as important to me as I let it be...but that is part of that self doubt and not measuring up thing. 
But this time IT won't win.  I won't let it.  I know God made me who I am today and that, my dear, is something to be proud of.

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