Releasing my pride
By Jessica Brodie
In an instant I was sprawled on the hot sand, baffled, embarrassed—and hurting. All I’d done was kick the ball and run toward first, but somehow between one hundred degree heat and my own clumsiness, I’d tripped on my own feet and gone down, right there in front of my teammates and opponents. Owwwwww on all levels.
Nope, this isn’t a story of some high school sporting attempt gone wrong. This was me on Saturday (two days ago!) at my church’s small group kickball tournament. I’ve got the skinned knees, hands, and forearm to prove it! And let me tell you, wiping out when you’re a middle-aged woman is far, far, far different from wiping out when you’re sixteen. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop limping!
In those moments, you can either laugh or cry. I chose to laugh. “I’m fine!” I said, waving away all the friends who rushed over. I made myself sit there on the bench, shrugging off sympathy, cheering on my teammates, desperate for any sort of attention to do an immediate about-face. I even stumbled out there to play another inning in the outfield, knees stinging fiercely.
But when the adrenaline wore off thirty minutes later and I finally picked the dirt and ick from my raw wounds and washed it all off with pink liquid hand soap in the public restroom, my pride hit me square on.
What’s so wrong with going through something hard and admitting you’re human … and it hurts? What is it about my own silly, arrogant pride that makes me laugh off skinned knees on a ball field instead of saying “Yep, it does hurt,” and taking a rest? I’m not just lying to myself. I’m lying to them, and I’m robbing them of the opportunity to do what God calls us to do: help each other.
Looking back, my pride has always gotten in the way in times of hardship far worse than skinned knees on a kickball field: Not wanting to admit I had a migraine or an awful case of stress-induced stomach pain. Not wanting to tell anyone my marriage had crumbled and I was alone. Not wanting the mask of “having it all together” to slip and my friends and coworkers to see the real, vulnerable me. Such a waste of time and energy back then when I could have used support and love from others! Instead, I let my pride become a wall—a force field—keeping everyone out.
God sees past all my stupid, futile attempts to hide my pain, and He’s there with me in my hard times. But He has also placed people in my life, friends and strangers alike, to help me and comfort me. In the beginning, He realized it was not good for people to be alone, so He gave Adam his Eve to be his companion and helper (Genesis 2:18). This was for both of their sakes, not just Adam’s! Jesus had His disciples, and years later, the apostle Paul urged people to let go of their own pride and embrace their weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and Galatians 6), both for themselves and for others.
For, Paul urged in Galatians 6:2, we are to “carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (CEB). That law is love.
Helping others with their burdens is a way of loving others. And letting others help us with our burdens is a way of allowing them to love us.
These burdens don’t have to be dramatic, like job loss or a major health crisis. They can be smiling at a stranger or offering grace and unexpected kindness to the snippy cashier ringing up our sale. They can be praying with a friend when she’s had a tough day, or helping a teammate with her skinned knees after a kickball game gone wrong.
After a good long look at my pride in that public bathroom mirror, I limped back out to the ball field Saturday and gave my friends a hug. “It does hurt,” I admitted, releasing my pride to the wind.
And I let them love me.