The Pride and the Fall

Oh pride is a tough thing to deal with. I have said several times over the last little while, speaking of my job, that position didn’t matter. Jesus has changed my focus to Him, and I am loved, needed, wanted, and chosen by Him, and that is enough. I thought I truly believed that, and I still think that, because He’s the One I run to when something hurts my concept of myself.

We have a picture of ourselves in our head and that’s pretty much what we go by. I’d like to think that Jesus is changing the picture of myself that I have. I’d really like to. I’d like to be able to sit comfortably and securely in His arms and for nothing else to matter but knowing how loved I am by Him. I’ll get back there, I have no doubt, but today I don’t feel that way.

Why are titles so important to us? I’ve grappled with this question in the past but didn’t really come to a satisfactory answer. The company I work for is led by someone who doesn’t give two figs about titles. I think sometimes that is so because he has the title. He’s the EVP. Big title, big responsibility.

I have wanted a title for so long. I’ve reached for it, aspired to it. It was my goal. It was my way to say I’ve arrived, I’m successful. I’m somebody. We all want to be somebody, don’t we? I worked in a customer service job for quite a few years before I changed jobs into what I’m doing now. I hated that job. I was so unsatisfied in my personal life, felt so marginalized, so useless, so unwanted, and it was compounded by the job I had. I felt like I was just one of the crowd there. (Mind you, these were my feelings…this was not entirely the mindset of the company I worked for.)

I so wanted to stand out, to be the “rock star”, to be celebrated and promoted and wanted and needed. I was missing that everywhere else and I felt like my job was a place where there was at least the possibility of obtaining what I longed for. When I felt that all possibility of getting what I needed was gone, I changed jobs. I clung to that new position with everything I was. It was my lifeline. It was my new identity. My husband may not have wanted me for who I was, but my new company did. I finally was somebody. I had a title and the potential for moving up.

Then things changed. My direct report changed to someone who came in long after me and knew nothing about the systems and programs and policies that were in place. She became my direct report and I have struggled with that ever since because I didn’t feel she deserved that. I felt like she took my potential for growth. It felt like a demotion.

I have struggled with it, but I have also come to a place of quasi-acceptance of that reality. It is what is, basically. I honestly didn’t realize that a lot of that was because I still had the title. It may not have been what I hoped it would be, but I still had that.

Almost a year ago my focus did change, my goals in life changed, what I am working towards, wanting, is completely different than what it used to be. And yet…I still have a certain picture of myself, and that picture took a hit today.

But here is where the rubber meets the road isn’t it? Here is where I find out just how much I mean what I’m saying. Just how much I have changed. I cannot hold up the truth that I have come to know and hold on to my concept of myself. The two do not meet. They do not agree.

If my concept of myself is tied up in who someone else tells me I am, the validation and approval I am given by my workplace, by my pastor, by my friends, by my family, by whoever may read what I write, then I have missed the point. And yet, that’s where I find myself today. I’ve missed the point. The enemy of my soul jumps right into the events of this day and tells me I’ve never been what I thought I should be. I’ve never been worth anything. I’ve never been loved, needed, wanted, chosen. I might as well give up now. Why should I care anymore?

But there is a Voice inside of me that rises up and refutes that. I know then that the truth of His word has found a home in my heart. I am loved. I am needed, wanted, and chosen. I am celebrated. What do I do with that truth? What do I do with the feelings I have today?

I can tell you what I have done so far…I’ve cried on His shoulder. I’ve told Him “that hurt!” I’m so glad I can go to Him with my feelings. He acknowledges them. He helps me own them. He helps me weed through them to find the root. And He will help me operate out of the truth He has shown me.

I want my concept of myself to be defined by the One who created me. I want to learn what He needs me to learn through the puncture of my perceptions. I want the truth to be what I operate out of. There is freedom there. I’m so thankful that I know that I am loved by Him. I’m thankful that He has drawn me close enough to Him that when I’m hurt, He’s the One I run to.

He sees value in me. Jesus, my Savior. The Holy One of Israel. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Alpha and Omega. The King of kings. The Lord of lords. The Eternal One. The Self-Existent One. That Person sees value in me.

I have said recently that I didn’t care if He wanted me to sweep the floors, I just wanted to be useful to Him. I think He may be testing that. I want to back-pedal now. I want to say “I didn’t mean it like that!” I want it to go away. But it’s here, and now I have to deal with it. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want the test either. I don’t want to have to live out the truth that I’ve learned. That’s just honest, just real. I’d rather have it easier. But I will submit. When the sting rises up again, I will bring it to Him. The enemy can’t have me on this one. He’s not going to defeat me. I will stand in the victory that has already been secured for me.

I don’t know at this point the extent of the lesson He wants me to learn. But I know I want a teachable heart. I want to incline my ear to Him and listen to, absorb what He says. I want Him to define me, and I want me to be okay with that definition. I want to let go of my old perceptions, my value system. I’m appalled that there is still that much of it in me. But He is faithful to show us when we are faithful to listen.

It won’t be quick and it won’t be easy. It will be a continuous lesson and I’m not looking forward to it. But I want to learn. I want to be who He says I am, who He sees me to be, and I want to adjust my vision to match His.

I don’t have the title I wanted anymore. I am on an even playing field with others now, one of the crowd. I’m back where I started. That’s a painful thing. But perhaps the most necessary thing. I trust Him. I trust my Jesus to be good, to have my good in mind, to use this to make me more useful to Him.

There’s a scene in a book by C. S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This is where the boy Eustace is turned into a dragon due to his own greed, inflated opinion of himself, and general nastiness. Aslan the Lion, the picture of Christ, helps him to become a boy again when he reaches the point where he can see past his inflated opinion of himself. It involves shedding his skin, and Eustace goes about scratching and pulling and scaling off the outer shell. He is surprised to find that he is still a dragon. He does it again, and again and again. But he can’t shed his own nature. Aslan tells Eustace he will have to allow him, Aslan, to do it. Aslan reaches out his claws and scores deeply, and it hurts! Oh it hurts! It’s miserable and painful and seems never ending. But when the Lion is done, there’s a thick, scaly shell of a dragon laying to the side, and Eustace is stripped to the core of himself. Aslan tells Eustace to step into the pool of water they are near, and he washes Eustace clean. When he comes up out of the water, he is a boy again, and thoroughly and completely changed from the inside out.

Today has shown me just how tied I still am to this world’s value system, and to the opinions and thoughts of others. I have busily turned over and over in my mind the impact of this change…what others will think, that they’ll think I have failed in some way…that there are aspects of my duties I won’t be able to do any more because I no longer have that title. I want to cower down in the face of that, I want to step into the shame that I associate with that. I want to be angry and yet I can’t.

My pride is a thick, scaly shell. I have shed as much as I can on my own. Now it’s Jesus’s turn to shed me. To score deep and pull away the clinging hide that has covered me. It won’t be quick, and it is likely to be miserable and painful and to continue for some time. I already don’t like it. But I love Him, and I trust that He is good and He loves me. And I trust that whatever circumstance He directs or allows in my life, will be used for my good and His glory.

If that is to be the thrust of my life, if His glory is my main goal, then I have to allow Him to shed what needs to be shed. I’m reminded that in God’s economy everything is upside down. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. The King became the servant. King Jesus, “who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” He willingly laid down His right to His position so that He could serve and sacrifice for us.

That’s not the scope of what I am facing, but it helps to put it in that perspective. He will not direct or allow anything in my life that does not have a purpose in His kingdom. So be it. Your will be done on earth, in my life, as it is in heaven. My Jesus, who loves me, will help me. He is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me faultless before the throne with exceeding joy. I’m so glad that’s His job and not mine.

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