It was January in Michigan and we had just gotten hit with a mid-day dose of freezing rain. The gravel drive was covered in a glistening sheet of ice. I was in college and spending the weekend at my future in-law's home where we were preparing to head back to our college dorms. Our arms were full of clean laundry, big text books and groceries. I was still in a dress and heels from attending church that day. I exited the back door onto a concrete step which in itself had a dangerous layer of ice. I was holding a case of pop and my boyfriend (future husband) said “Stand at the door and I will load the car and walk back to help you.” As much as I appreciated the chivalry, I thought to myself “whatever, I can do this myself.”
I was not three steps away from the door when I slipped on the ice, flipped up into the air, dropping the entire case of pop and landed hard on my rear end. When he tells the story from time to time at a table of friends, he often comments how all he heard was pop cans rolling down the driveway.
As much as I would like to claim this act of humiliation an isolated incident, most of my life has been peppered with moments of humiliation caused from acts of stupidity or rigid pride.
It is impossible to talk about humility without first talking about its arch enemy – Pride. A few months ago, I felt a deep unveiling of the depth of my pride, not only in my conversations and thoughts, but in my parenting, friendships (or lack thereof), mental comparisons and glances. I told my husband one evening that I felt like I should write PRIDE in all capital letters across my mirror so every morning when I looked at my reflection I could be reminded of the depth of my sin. Thankfully, our God of grace is much gentler in the way He handles us. He slowly drew me to himself and in the safety of His love he gently revealed my brokenness and desperate need for a Savior instead of the way I continued to stand knee deep in pride.
In Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert she writes, “Pride is the root of all sin. Pride puffs one up with a false sense of independence. Proud people always feel they can live independently from God and from other people. Proud people feel entitled to do what they want to do.” The hard thing about pride is that the roots are incredibly deep and entangle deeply into the soul. It is both a painful and intense process of rooting out pride from our lives.
The challenging part of humility is that it cannot be grasped on our own because as soon as we spend time trying to acclaim the trait of humility, we have already failed by thinking so often about ourselves trying to obtain it. Timothy Keller says “...the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
At the heart of humility is the opposite of Rosaria Butterfield’s definition of pride. Humility is being willing to serve others as well as allow myself to be served. It is living in a gospel centered community that relies on others for empowerment, discipline and encouragement. It is relying fully on God and allowing His will to dictate and ordain each day. It is bearing my cross knowing my days are made for eternal glory.
When I think about my silly escapade with soda cans rolling down the driveway or the many other stories I have filed away for a rainy day (there is one involving a cheerleading kick that did not end well), I am reminded of Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom" (CSB). As many embarrassing stories as I have about times when my pride lead to a humiliating moment of disgrace, I have double the amount of times when moments of pride left my heart or someone else’s with scars. My prayer for myself – and for you – is that we would learn to weed out the roots of pride so we can bask in the gift of His wisdom from choosing to think of ourselves less.
Melissa Jackson has been married to her college sweetheart, LD for 14 years and they reside in Charlotte, NC. Melissa is a biological mom of 3, an adoptive mom of 1, and sometimes a foster mom and host mom to exchange students. They also share their home with Melissa's parents. Their home is an ever revolving door and they are so thankful to be able to live with hands and hearts open to whatever God calls them to. Melissa has served on staff at churches as well as in leadership roles as a volunteer and has a passion for providing opportunities for others to be the hands and feet of Christ. Melissa began documenting their life of radical faith after her husband left corporate America to do ministry and they became foster parents. More about their journey can be found at www.crazywildfaith.wordpress.com