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When I say “pride,” I don’t mean the satisfaction that comes from a job well done or the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long-term pursuit. What I want to talk about today is the kind of pride that means having an excessively high opinion of oneself.
How Is Pride a Barrier to Love?
Pride is a barrier to love in our lives because pride refuses to admit weakness. How can I be weak if I am the best? How can I be vulnerable when I am too powerful to be hurt? Pride prevents us from vulnerability, and lack of vulnerability prevents us from being known. And because we are not known, we are skeptical even of those who truly do love us. If they knew the “real me,” they would be horrified and would not love me. Or so we think.
The Blinding Selfishness of Pride
Pride moves us to focus on ourselves. Any time spent looking at the people around us is only for the sake of comparison and to remind ourselves, Oh, I am better than that person. Because we look at the people around us only to critique and belittle them, we’re unable to have meaningful, loving relationships with them.
Pride is a failure to see. Because we can’t admit the truth about ourselves, we also cannot admit the truth about people around us. Every step toward truth causes our carefully constructed self-image to shudder at the base, and even a small revelation of who we really are introduces pain, worry, fear, anger. Love is grounded in truth, so the defenses we build keep out not just truth but love as well. We cannot produce love in the truest sense because we can’t clearly see the needs and desires of the people around us, who we see as worth far less than we ourselves are.
Pride also prevents us from being honest about our needs. Why would we need something? We are self-sufficient, powerful. People who need things are weak and lesser.
Because we cannot share our needs, those who love us are not able to meet us in those areas of pain and lack. In fact, people who seem to love us often are people who give us praise because “we are so great” but know nothing about us—not really.
Creating Space for Love
Pride is a barrier to love. It fills up every inch of our lives. It doesn’t leave space for anything or anyone but us. It protects us from hurt, yes, but it makes us lonely and often angry and self-focused people. Pride is often a disguise for fear. We are worth more than we think we are . . . and we are more fragile, broken, and weak than we like to admit. When we lay down our pride—even for a moment—it creates a space for love to fill.
Do you deal with pride in your life? If so, is it just in one area, or is it more widespread? How do you feel when someone pushes against your image of yourself?
“How can I help?” For this exercise, you need to ask others this question. Not because you’re the best, but because when we are dealing with issues of pride, it’s helpful to push our focus toward others. There will be people you don’t know how to help, and that’s okay. Becoming aware of our limitations is also part of dismantling pride—and making more room for love in our lives.
Tomorrow, we will ponder the possibility that love could be something more than we might think. I am so glad we are doing this journey together!
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