PROCEED WITH COURAGE. That was the advice I got the other day. It was awesome advice. I was looking for someone to tell me what to do and, well, I was told. The problem is that I wasn't exactly sure what they were talking about. I mean, I get it, but proceed exactly where? I had been pondering some heavy questions for a few days. I had been thinking of next steps, goal-setting, I had been dreaming, and of course, because I'm me, injecting chunks of realism (read: pessimism, skepticism).
I want to sing. I want to write. I've been struggling with this thing I have called pride. Brought to my attention a couple of years ago, pride, as I knew the definition to be wasn't exactly what was crippling me, it was the pride I never knew was pride. I never overtly put myself on a pedestal. I didn't proclaim, "I am so great!" with a puffed up ego. So in that sense, pride wasn't the obvious issue I had. It was pointed out to me in a gentle way, through a question from a friend, a mentor of mine. And all because I refused to join in some silly antics of taking a harmless picture and distorting my image for laughs. My objection was, "I'm just too vain, I guess," shrugging it off. The response was, "Maybe you have a pride issue."
See, I cared about how I looked, how people were going to perceive me, my image. Instead of allowing for some harmless fun and silliness, I cared about what people were going to say if they were to see such a photo. I didn't understand it at the moment. Even the comment of having a pride issue didn't make sense at the time. Graciously, the statement of having a pride issue didn't just end there. Examples of how this person related to it was given and clearly I had similar thoughts much of the time. So it gnawed and gnawed. I posed the question to my husband the next day, "I'm not a proud person, am I?" Again taking "pride" in the context of an outwardly puffed-up egomaniac. He agreed that I was not. But it kept eating away at me. The next few days spelled it out for me. I did have a major pride issue. And even though the outwardly puffed-up egomaniac wasn't really what I was dealing with, my pride ran deeper; a thick, black sickness pulsing through my veins. A transfusion would be all that would cure me. A transfusion that still takes place this very day.
Pride for me is ME, SELF. Egomaniac to the core. This is what I struggle with on a minute by minute basis. Inward, not outward (so it doesn't necessarily project "self-absorbed-snob and prigish). It's about me and how others see me. It's about what others will think of me (this is also called fear). It's about being afraid to do something silly for fear of my how I will look. It's about being afraid to try something new for I may not be good at it and fail or I'll receive some remark about it's good that I at least tried. It's about not finishing something for fear I could never be excellent at it. It's about making sure I choose the right outfit so I can receive compliments. It's imagining what the conversation will be like so I get noticed for something - all with a seemingly humble response. It's fear and selfishness with a side of envy and self-doubt mixed in. That's the recipe for pride in me. It is something that has been brewing in me my whole life. I have searched within myself for the reasons why I am this way, and certain things, events and experiences have contributed, but regardless of the reasons why, I have to accept that this thing, this pride thing is a part of me. But I will not stop there and give the excuse of, "Well, that's just who I am, that makes me who I am, and that's that." No. This is not something to leave as is. This has crippled me my whole life. Why would I let it continue to be a part of me? This is a disease that can be cured and will be cured. I recognized it, and I fight it every second of every day. I do not fight alone, however. I have a power greater than I who fights with me. Fights for me. One who is on my side to cure this sickness which debilitates me. I can rely only on Him for I find myself incredibly unreliable in this matter. For once I relied on Him solely, things improved, then I begin to forget about Him and of course pride crept in again. So I find myself back close to the starting point. Beginning again, except this time with the understanding of what cripples me. So, my reliance on God, the Mighty One, Jesus, will have to be a complete reliance for I have seen what I am capable of.
This brings me back to the advice, PROCEED WITH COURAGE. I want to sing, I want to write, I want to bring hope and beauty to a place where it is so rare to find it. I must, I must, I must do those things without pride. Without fear, without the desire to be recognized for my "talent" for the "awesome things" that I write or for the "attention"(good or bad) I receive for my voice (literally and figuratively). So I must proceed. With courage. In all that I do, whatever it looks like for that moment, I must PROCEED WITH COURAGE. I don't think it was an answer to any one of my singular questions I was pondering. I think it was God saying, "Quit proceeding with caution and proceed with courage." Caution for me equals pride (fear, selfishness, envy, self-doubt, SELF). Courage is the cure to my disease. With all that is within me, I must be courageous. I'll let God hold the sword. I'll be His armor- bearer and follow Him into battle. I trust He will be the example I need to follow and pass along the sword to me. I want to be courageous enough to take it and go.