For many years, I prided myself in being as competitive, focused, and goal driven as any individual I knew. When I played sports, I only had one losing season ever. Winning was in my DNA. Losing was not an option. I had to win. Period. Winning was an escape from my inward pain. Winning was the validation that others did not provide. Winning gave me hope that I would be accepted. Winning gave me “friends”. Winning made me successful.
The problem with using this line of logic is that one loses the ability to learn how to recover from defeat, become introspective in a challenge, and ask for help to grow and become better. My greatest hang ups as an adult were rooted in the idea of being self-reliant. I believed the hype about my giftings, skills, and abilities. To some degree, I allowed people to inflate my misguided understanding of myself so I did not lose any personal value to my existence.
How wrong I was…..
For the past few years, I have found myself very hesitant to accept praise or encouragement from people. Most of that resistance has come as the result of experiencing people hyping me to my face while tearing me down behind my back. It is the worst kind of cruelty. You are set up to believe that you are making a difference or impacting lives, only for someone to take the time to tear down your name or make a mockery of your existence. It is never an easy proposition.
The more I think on it, I realize that every single heartbreaking moment has served as an opportunity to strip my former way of thinking. The challenges have aided in my shifted perspective on how I engage my life at this point. Many people that have been in my life do not realize how much impact they have made on my mentality. Some of them do not know that the negative things that have been done humbled me.
Now, I live in a manner where nothing is taken for granted. I don’t take moments with true friends lightly. I don’t take opportunities to serve as entitlements. I can’t look at the world with bootstrap mentality. People will never be addressed from the place of their outward condition. The soul, mind, and spirit matter much more than ever before. I no longer pity the person grinding to put one foot in front of the other. I honor the person who has tangibly little, but is profoundly wealthy in spirit.
My greatest desire now is to live humbly under the guidance and hand of God. I know that sounds so over the top and super spiritual. The truth is that I can not make it in this life without God’s guidance. I don’t need to debate with people about my understanding of God. I don’t wish to get into the semantics of gender/no gender assignment of God. I don’t need people to attempt to change my understanding of my relationship with God.
I know that nothing that I do for the rest of my life will be strictly by my own effort alone. I will not be a good husband without paying attention to the best way to love Myrissa. I will not be the father CJ needs without the willingness to continue to learn constantly. I will never truly win in life without maintaining a healthy understanding of what God has entrusted to me to use for enhancing the lives of others.
Many of you have lived with similar realities. You wanted to please everyone, enhance your world only, or position yourself to be superior. It is a futile enterprise. Nothing good comes from unhealthy ideas of self over the rest of humanity. There is nothing wrong with confidence. There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself. Yet, consuming ourselves with the “me” mentality can ultimately destroy us. Humility will keep and elevate us.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. –James 4:10, ESV