Humility and the Heavy Burdens of Pride
Mark Shea over at Catholic and Enjoying It linked to a long, scholarly-sounding reflection on humility by Ben Douglass this morning. If you have the time, it’s well worth reading. It definitely got me thinking about the role that pride and humility are currently playing in my life and how greater humility might change that. The Prayer of St. Ephraim, which I discussed last week, brought the oft-overlooked virtue of humility to mind, but sections of this reflection helped me see the symptoms of pride in my life more clearly.
He will think he is relating information or telling a story accurately when he is in fact getting it garbled. He will answer questions not directed to him, interrupt others, and not let them get a word in edgewise, because he thinks it is more important that what he has to say be said. He is moreover dismissive of contrary opinions and hostile to correction, for if he is wrong, this implies that his intellectual faculties are less than he thought they were. The more deeply invested he is in error, the more he has defended and buttressed it and the more tightly he has integrated it into his worldview, the more painfully he must eventually humble himself, or be humbled, for the more unflattering will be the admission he must eventually make, here or hereafter.
As I read, I kept thinking about an argument I had last night with my dad about the education job market and what I should do to increase my chances of being hired. I’ll be honest- the only part of that description above that doesn’t describe me lady night is the word “he”. As I continued through the piece, Ben discussed the miseries that a proud person brings on himself by placing his own goals and ways of doing things above common sense, keeping the peace, and following God’s will.
I decided I don’t want to be prideful anymore. It’s spiritual poison and it clouds my vision of the truth. Also, I’m moving back in with my parents in June, and I’ve been worrying that it will be tough to adjust to doing things their way when I am used to being on my own. Now I realize that the root of that tendency to hate any compromise or imposition on my freedom is pride.
I’ve always felt that the Scripture which says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” didn’t quite fit with “take up your cross and follow me.” The burden Christ bore for us was heavy indeed, and Christians through the ages have been called to endure many things, even persecution and martyrdom, that I wouldn’t consider easy or light. But reading this reflection on pride and humility, I came to realize how great a burden our own inflated egos can be. The virtue of humility, especially in tandem with patience, really does lighten the load we bear and free us to live in God’s peace without constantly fussing over getting our own way or being perceived in a positive light. So in the spirit of Easter joy, I’m not being too harsh on myself. Rather, I’m just going to add humility to my intentions and think before I act about whether I’m making the choice toward humility or pride.
Since it’s still Easter Week…
Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!
Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!