“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
“This is the way, walk in it.” Why is sometimes so hard for me to just follow your will for me? Don’t answer, Lord, I already know the answer. Pride! Everyone has some inner space to navigate in order to receive the abundance of grace You desire for them, and that space is unique to each person. For me, it’s over-weaning pride, the underbelly of balanced pride. It’s that, “I can handle this!” comeuppance in my spirit that’s the problem, isn’t it?
I can connect the dots of how pride became over-weaning PRIDE. The long fight with this rearguard of delusion in my soul grew from the feelings of the insecurities surrounding mom’s chronic disease, and they’ve shadowed my life and fogged the way of humility from time to time. Now, as I look back, I realize I couldn’t restore mom’s health through my own efforts yet somehow in my emotional formation, I came to believe it was up to me to shield her and others from suffering. That delusion led to this prideful determination that I would protect anyone I loved from suffering. Not such a bad motivation, is it, Lord?
I learned early on that we grow in holiness as we obey the Spirit’s leadership in the walk of faith: to trust was to obey and to obey was to trust. It was the consistent lesson from Dad and Mom to us as we lived in our reality. Learning obedience and trust have included pratfalls along the way. And it always come down to two areas of my life: The great tests of my faith have been through circumstances around what you know I hold most dear in my life–my family. It has been one thing to say to You, “Yes, I want to ascend the heights of grace, yes, I want to seek understanding by learning to trust.” It is quite another thing for me to say, “Yes, I will choose to allow my husband or child or loved one to suffer through circumstances while You teach me to trust and obey.” Worse yet, the great tests of my faith have been with the mindset that accompanies my pride. “Yes, I desire to be humbled, LORD…But I will not allow anyone to know the emotional or physical battles I fight every day in this ascent to holiness…I will not entrust myself to others.” Do you shake your head and wonder when I’ll loosen my grip on pride?
I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote that pride is disordered self-trust. It seems to me that in every upheaval that precedes my eventual obedience there is a redemptive moment when I’ve realize that disordered self-trust has me in its grip. If I’m going to be transformed into the image of Christ through a circumstance, I have to loosen my grip on my pride. LORD, I’m in awe of your patience with me and I’m grateful for the lightness of being that flows over my spirit each time I submit to You! It seems the path of surrender only opens before me as I learn from each temptation to turn to my pride--“to the right or to the left..choose you this day whom you trust.”
I read somewhere that suffering and death are the specters that brood and hover around the edges of fallen humanity–sometimes they stand just outside the boundaries of living in the present moment, other times they possess us. That possession is sometimes suffocating and other times sly; slipping in and around my thoughts until I’m in a cul-de-sac of confusion! Humbling myself by praying “God of Grace, this does not belong to me, it belongs to you” or “Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything” is responding to the truth that You are the voice that is saying to me, “This is the way, walk in it.” And as I entrust myself to You, you train me in the grace of stilling my thoughts and stepping back to look at the circumstances through your eyes.