Forgiveness is the highest rated search term for my site, and I appreciate why. It’s hard to do. This series of posts during Lent has encouraged introspection to foster greater intimacy with God. If your inner inventory has revealed forgiveness issues, it might be worthwhile to pause a moment to examine pride.
Pride is an obstacle to many graces, and forgiveness and intimacy are certainly among them. What older sibling has not adamantly rejected forgiveness from a younger sibling, quite sure that she has done nothing wrong to warrant forgiveness? Forgiveness can also challenge the “I’ve earned everything I have by my own power” mentality that pervades our culture. Accepting a gift of great value may threaten our sense of independence and potency. It takes some humility.
Looking honestly at our fallings and failings hurts our pride. We don’t want introspection to take a toll on our self-esteem or to make us feel weak. On a personal note, I think protecting my pride is my single most difficult obstacle to introspection. The paradox is that self-awareness makes us stronger and more able, not weaker. Moreover, when we make room for God’s power, we become equipped for much more than we can do by virtue of will power alone.
If you are in a wrestling match with pride, try thinking bigger. Aim for something so big, so difficult and magnificent, that there is no realistic expectation of accomplishing it on your own. When we depend on God’s grace and the contributions of others, our own roles comes into a more balanced perspective, and that, in turn, helps us recognize the forgiveness we truly need. Investing ourselves in the big picture—God’s vision—instead of our carefully constructed self-images transforms accepting forgiveness from a crippling defeat into a healthy means to a greater end.
These verses and breathing prayer highlight the false security we get from pride and the real power we can find in God.
16 A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. (Psalm 33: 16-17, 20)
Inhale: God’s power
Exhale: my power
Join the conversation. What was your most challenging experience with forgiveness?
Copyright 2012 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.