In which I cannot be better than them

by Craig on January 3, 2012

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My pride…
a sheet with angry dogs on each corner…
yanking, ripping, shredding it to pieces.

It was a humiliation.

I have to forgive – I have no other choice as a Christian.
I tend to think that forgiveness isn’t so hard for me.
It really is literally impossible for me to maintain a grudge.
Even when I try to hold onto one it slips from my fingers.
I forget – and forgetting is part of forgiving.

But the problem is not the maintaining of a grudge.
It’s the formation of the grudge to begin with.

From the start I knew I’d forget…forgive…
but why take so long…days…weeks…
to arrive where I should have been from the start?

And my pride, so easily wounded…
reveals that no matter how humble my words…
my lack of humility remains a too large target to strike.

The working my way to forgiveness…
there is no great honor in that.
That’s not forgiving as God forgives.

Lord, you didn’t go through a process before forgiving.
How long did it take You to say from the Cross…

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They were your. first. words.

And I have to ask myself why my pride was so easily undone to begin with.
Why was I laid so low by the humiliation?
Isn’t “humble” what I should be – not something I’m reduced to?

When I was a kid my mom would always say, “Be better than them.”

But I’m not better than anyone.
I can strive to act better than then they did…
but I can’t be better than they are.

One sin in my life makes me unfit for the kingdom of God – just one.

Every single one of us needs grace.
I need grace no less, and no more, then they do…than anyone does.

And this is the place where I find…
the 5th of Bernard of Clairvaux’s 12 steps of pride…
(step one is here, 2 is here, 3 here, and 4 here).

This step he calls, “Singularity”…
and he sums it up simply…
“I am not as other people are.”
It’s a lie I see Satan whispering to God in eternity past…

“I’m not like the others.
You made me better, different, superior.
I deserve more.”

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His pride, like a virus, would grow…
and his words might have been…

“I’m singular. There is no one like me. I deserve what You have.”

But we have more than conjecture to rely upon.

Tomorrow…

one more day on this sneaky little step of pride.

Tomorrow…

from conjecture…to fact.

Please come back.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria January 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

just one more day on this sneaky little step of pride?

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Craig January 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm

just one more – that ought to do it – we’ll see ツ God bless.

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Brandee Shafer January 4, 2012 at 12:02 am

Now you’re in there like swimwear!

real wisdom

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Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

is that a girl thing? “In there like swimwear”? and the wisdom? It’s inspired by Bernard of Clairvaux – who I think was inspired by God – he gets it – he handed the steps down – I’m just spinning it with up-to-the-minute experience. Thank you Brandee, and God bless you my friend.

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Brandee Shafer January 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

In there like swimwear…hmmm…I think I stole that expression from my brother, actually, so I reckon it’s a straight-up East Tennessee thing. As to the rest, I give you more credit than you give yourself. It’s all been said before, Craig; nothing is new under the sun. But to be able to comprehend and apply it is wisdom. To be able to explain it to others is even more wisdom. You are very wise!

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Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

ok…thank you – just thank you Brandee ツ

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Dawn January 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

Dear Craig,

I get this. I can feel each and every line you write. I could have written them. That’s where you have it over me. (You don’t want to be over anyone, I know, but you are over me here.) I can not write humility like you do. Even though you say, “no matter how humble my words…
my lack of humility remains a too large target to strike.” I can’t even write about the struggle as you do. Even that is TOO humiliating for me, so carry on, some of us need this.

Dawn

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Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Dawn, faces a different, circumstances and details different – but I know you get it. And writing humility – that’s the easy thing – being humble without the humiliation – that’s the real thing. Anyway, thank you, and God bless you as always!

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Debbie January 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Craig, you got me about it being His first words on the cross. Oooooohhhhh. That hushes me right there. Coming back tomorrow. For more learning and hushing. God bless you and thank you.

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Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I KNOW! I had forgotten myself – that those were our Lord’s FIRST words from the Cross. It is a breathe stealer. God bless you Debbie!

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Caddo Veil January 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I agree! And had never thought about His first words from the cross–WOW, I’ll be meditating on this all day, hoping to ingrain it in my daily walk through tough relationships (we can do all things through Christ!). Can I just say though, — it bums me out that vanity is always dressed up like a woman. My maintenance guy, a Christian who aspires to be a pastor, admitted that he colors the gray in his hair–and I saw him more than once, checking his hair in my mirror!!! And then there’s my neighbor–not a believer–who is obsessed with his long hair……….. God bless you Craig–have an excellent day!!

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Craig January 7, 2012 at 8:25 am

sorry, by the way, Caddo, that I’ve been late in replying to your comments – I’m normally much quicker. This new year – this year that I named “see” – it’s already been quite the challenge. And I’ll admit – I wasn’t quite prepared for it. But, I’ve already gotten big help from our Lord. And I was surprised too, that those were Our Lord’s first words – before anything else he thought to forgive those who were unwittingly sacrificing him. The very first words. And about vanity being always dressed up like a woman – I don’t think it’s so much that. I think that artists tend toward younger female models for their art – whether they be male or female artists – just like fashion designers – so most art – and I look at a lot of it because I heart pictures on my blog – most of it features younger women. So I’m not sure that there’s a vanity conspiracy ツ just the way of the world. And you know – we’re all vain – I check my hair just like everybody else – and as quick as I say that – I remember how Absalom met his death – ooooof. Anyway, God bless you Caddo, and I hope you have an excellent day as well.

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Martha Orlando January 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I heard this growing up – be better than everyone else – and it simply, positively, absolutely is not true. It fetters and binds us in the merciless chains of pride. It is the dog we think is sleeping which jumps us to bite us when we least expect it.
We are not better . . . we are forgiven. We are all expected by God to fulfill His purpose for us in a way that does not allow for comparison with others. We find, eventually, we are who we are and they are who they are, together in this journey, yet separate in our needs and abilities. All of which are recognized as precious in the sight of God.
Beautiful post, Craig, as always . . . So sorry to be long in getting back to you, but we were attending Passion 2012 here in Atlanta – such inspiration! God was present in it all! If you search CNN news, you can see a great video about this incredible event!

Blessings, my friend!

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Craig January 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

you’re right Martha, I know my mom had the best of intentions in saying it – maybe the people who said it to you did as well. But none of us are better – we can only compare ourselves to perfection – to our Lord – and that’s why we always come up short. We aren’t sinners when we compare ourselves to the world – because generally – I like to think the behavior of true Christians is much better –we’re sinners when we compare ourselves to perfection – to God. I’m not sure people get that when we tell unbelievers that we are sinners. I think maybe we might need to change that message a little – or at least clarify it. Anyway, thank you Martha, and blessings to you too my friend.

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Felecia January 10, 2012 at 9:34 am

Craig ~ I’ve been away so forgive me catching up and commenting so far after the fact.
I love what is happening here … this God-orchestrated moment. Not that you were treated poorly for being your loving, open self – nor that you felt humiliation at words said in haste that sliced through your heart – but that you’re reading Bernard of Clairvaux at the same time as having this happen and you’re processing it openly here and instructing all along the way. I had an inkling of the grand design before but it is this post that drives it home. You are hurting, aching, learning … for our benefit. We are striving to understand your pain as well as benefit from your wisdom.
You are glorious! Thank you for the journey!
May God continue to bless you.
Felecia

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Craig January 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Felecia, if all of this bloggy difficulty, and emotional hurt, and striving so hard with nothing to show for it – if it has such a noble purpose – that’s awesome. Thank you. You know, the humble in me has to think it’s not such a glorious purpose – and even if it is – it’s just a tiny tiny part of HIS big plan. More of him – less of me. There is so much more I want to say about that situation and how it spread – but – I’ve decided – no names – and they are BIG blogging names – just turn the other cheek – and keep walking the narrow path. Thank you for walking with me. God bless you Felecia with two e’s.

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Nacole January 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm

wow. just wow. we are NOT better than them. we all need the cross. i like what Dawn said. it is so HARD to write about humility and the circumstances that teach us because it is HUMILIATING…and what if they read?! then what will they think of me?! so many variables in that one, that the dirty work is just best left to you. really, i have several stories and things that i want to write about…and maybe i will get to it. and maybe i wont. maybe i will ponder these things quietly in my heart as Mary did.

keep up the good work, Craig. we all need it as Dawn said!

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Craig January 15, 2012 at 5:29 am

that is always the thing Nicole – the “what will they think of me?” That’s why for so many years I hid the real me – so I never had to think about that – sadly – I thought about it anyway ツ thank you Nicole – God bless my Mississippi friend.

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Nacole January 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

:) :):)

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