Opposites are tricky, but opposites are fun. That’s the opening line to a song on Sounds Like Fun, a children’s album that has played no less than 1,500 times in my home. It’s great – numbers, days of the week, manners, letter sounds, and it’s calming. I love it. In this particular song, she covers messy vs neat, up vs down, all the usual terms one would expect a preschooler to be able to comprehend. Sometimes I think adults could use a sing-along lesson on opposites. In his message on the World Day of Peace in 2002, Saint John Paul II said, forgiveness is the opposite of resentment and revenge, not of justice. Yet, we withhold forgiveness because we fear that it condones a behavior. The truth is, sometimes the way we come to understand what qualifies as an opposite is by looking at one’s heart. This is a lesson I am learning the hard way, but praise the Lord, I AM learning.
I confess. I struggle with pride. The need to be right. The need to look intelligent. The need to look in control. If you ask ten people to tell you the opposite of pride, nine would probably say humility, but this one (the one I see in the mirror), would say love and here’s why. A few years ago I heard someone list some symptoms of pride & what it looks like in real life situations. Two things stuck with me. She asked, Do you feel the need to interrupt? and Do you have a hard time allowing others to tell you something you already know? That second question planted itself like a seed in my heart, but it wasn’t until recently when I really allowed God’s grace to open my eyes that it started to take root and convict me. I really, really struggle with this. For instance, if a coworker comes to me with information I already know, I rarely, if ever respond with Great! Thank you! It’s always, Yep, I know or worse, I don’t even let him finish the sentence. I jump in, offended that they didn’t realize I already knew (The nerve of them!). I do this to my mother constantly and I can only think that it’s because I don’t want to be mothered, but want to appear to have it all together and able to make my own decisions. Pride.
It wasn’t until about a week ago, when I was a witness to this same thing, that I saw pride for what it was: a lack of showing love. My two-year-old showed me a Spider Man motorcycle and pointed to the seat saying, this is where Spider Man sits. My response was the typical pretend-wonder that a parent shows when a child tells them something trivial and they clearly know the answer. Then he walked up to his big brother and told him the same thing. Big brother’s response: I already KNOW that! I interrupted the conversation and asked the big one why he couldn’t just let the little one tell him about what he discovered. I explained, I know it seems small to you and you might be a little annoyed, but if you love him, you’ll let him share this with you and just listen. It was as though God was speaking to me as I was speaking to my child. Loving one another means putting others first. It means letting others speak even when you know what you have to say is important. It means letting others have the spotlight. Pride is the opposite.
As I write this, I am realizing maybe love isn’t the opposite of pride. Maybe humility actually is, but then love is the antidote. To fight an inclination to sin with the opposite action might not be easy for everyone. It’s like trying to lose weight by drastically cutting calories instead of taking on a healthy habit. We can tackle, maybe even extinguish this pride problem if we choose love. When we want to brag, love God and glorify Him. When we want to interrupt, love the person who is speaking and let him speak. When we want to show off what we know at work, love your coworker and allow him to shine. Hmm, maybe we CAN make a sing-along, Opposites are tricky, but opposites are sanctifying! But what rhymes with sanctifying…
Copyright 2016 Abby Brundage