Ok, so I don’t know about you guys, but in my culture the word “pride” has some negative connotations. I’ve been taught in my religion to be meek, humble – some would say pious – and that pride is an emotion to avoid.
But is it?
As a woman, there have been a number of times when I have been walking along the path of life and found myself stumbling down the wrong road as my understanding of “Pride” became obscure and mistaken for “Arrogance” or “Show off”.
And it is not just a religious setting that taught me this. I have always admired my American friends being able to say “I’m really good at math” or “I can hit a home run on the field” with confidence. I distinctly remember saying things to my school friends like “I’m a good actress,” or “I’m really good at German” and the response would be “Yeah, you’re such a drama queen. That’s nothing to be proud of you know.” Or “Wow, aren’t you full of it?”
What is “it?”
And pride is bad. Right?
I believe, that when we read in the scriptures and listen to sermons, talks, wise counsel from church leaders who warn against pride, there is a misunderstanding.
I don’t think it is being humble to say “I’m no good at anything,” after having performed onstage. Or “Oh I didn’t do anything,” when we’ve been thanked for helping someone out.
I hear it all the time when I’m out and about, and I read it a lot more online.
“I’m a bad mum,”
“I’m just not a good dad.”
“I am hopeless”
“I could never do that,”
It goes on and on. Guys, Girls, Aliens – whoever the heck is reading my words – THIS IS NOT HUMBLE.
Being humble is not putting yourself down. It is not lowering your self to fit in with the crowd. It is not arguing against a compliment. It is not settling for second-best.
So erm, what is humility?
In my opinion, it is recognising your weaknesses and asking for help when you need it. It is identifying the actions you’ve made that have caused damage to others and taking the courage to apologise and set things straight. Humility is accepting that the world does not sit on your shoulders to bare alone. Humility is knowing that you don’t know everything. Humility is being open to growth.
Pride is important. Let me tell you what I think pride is.
Pride is waking up and making a conscious decision to do your best. Pride is recognising achievements and endeavouring to do better. Pride is what drives you to grow and conquer life’s battles. Pride goes hand in hand with Humility. Let me show you how:
My Dad was a strong man. He did not look it but oh boy was he strong. He once lifted a cement mixer that was full of cement. He lifted a piano off the ground by himself. In the last 18months at the age of 65 he picked up a solid double wardrobe that was full. Yes, it totally damaged his neck and back, but he did it nonetheless.
Yet, he would ask me for help. When I was 11 he took me to a caravan park where our family caravan was being stored. He filled two large buckets with water and asked me to carry them from the water tap to the caravan. He totally could have done it alone. Yet, he identified a teaching opportunity for me. He taught me that it is far easier to carry two heavy buckets of water than just one, because the weight of the buckets levelled my shoulders and felt so much more comfortable to walk with than using both hands to carry one. It took us hours to clean that caravan and Dad could have done it much faster on his own especially if we made shortcuts – like using the hose to get rid of most of the dirt and give it a quick once-over with a sponge. But no, Dad had pride in his work. He took pride in MY work. He taught me to stick at it, do the job properly and let me tell you, after hours of filling buckets, wringing out muddy sponges and wiping the sides of the caravan – all while listening to the Carpenter’s singing from the car radio – when dad and I finished and the sun was beginning to set, we looked at our sparkling clean caravan and smiled broadly. Feeling a huge amount of accomplishment.
When there was furniture to be built, Dad let me read the instructions and find him the bits and pieces needed for each step.
When there was gardening to do, Dad let me help him turn over the soil with a spade and lay patio slabs on the ground. We did it together. When a slab was wonky and moved with you stepped on it, the slab came back up, we evened off the sand/stone mixture on the ground and put the slab down again.
When I struggled with my maths homework, and desperately wanted to rush some answers down and finish – knowing they were wrong – Dad stopped me and worked with me to find the right answers.
When he asked me to tidy my room and caught me stuffing toys and papers under my bed, he told me – kindly – to pull everything out and got down on the floor with me and helped me work out where everything should go instead of cluttering under the bed.
When Dad slipped a disc in his back and had to take time off work due to the pain, he asked me – at fourteen – to go to the shops and get the weekly shopping. I had to walk down a steep hill and carry 4 heavy bags back up the hill full of food and cleaning products. I packed the bags evenly and carried them two on each side levelling out my shoulders and making it easier to carry. I was trusted to make dinner. I was asked to walk the dog. I was trusted to do my home education schedule. I was asked to hoover and clean the bathrooms, empty/fill the dishwasher and do the laundry. He was humble enough to ask me for help and he took pride in what I achieved.
Dad taught me to be proud of what I do. Big or small.
So, the lesson I want you to take from this, is to embrace humility and pride. Use them both in your daily life. Accept and ask for help when you need it, adapt to change, embrace something new, and work hard, be proud of what you do.
Whatever you decide to do today, do it with the desire to be proud of your achievements at the end of the day. I want you going back to bed tonight with a big old smile on your face at the satisfaction that comes with achieving a goal and doing your very best at something.
A colleague at work needed your help? Take time to help, and do it properly. Don’t rush and push the person away. Be kind, treat them well, teach them.
The laundry needs to go on? Clean out the gunk in the softener compartment, make sure the clothes don’t get stuck in the rim and recognise you did a good job.
Your child is asking a million questions and you’re trying to reply to a text message. Put the phone down, look your beautiful child in the eyes and listen to them. Go back to the message when you can sit and have a quiet moment. That way, both your child and your friend on the other end of that phone will receive a much better side of you. Heck, don’t text back, pick up the phone and give them a call.
Whatever you do today. Remember to ask for help and accept it where you need it, and take pride in your efforts.
You might just find your chaotic and something monotonous daily life transcends into something beautiful.