They say the first step towards recovery is to admit you have a problem.
I admit it.
I have a problem.
I have a problem with pride that has reared its ugly head for a few months now. So last night I laid it all out to the women of my Bible study. We are studying the Book of James and James, man, James does not strive to treat you gently. He will lift you off your feet, shake you like a rag doll, and set you down roughly. And this week, he did me in again.
I have not written for a while and it took some wrestling to figure this out. I don't write consistently. True. I tend to write when something gets a hold of me and I have to put words to it. But lately there have been stories floating around me that I just can't seem to pin down. I'll start one and never finish it. My virtual waste basket is full of wadded pieces of paper with discarded ideas. But it took an ancient writer to confront me and point out the truth to me: you don't write because you don't write like her, her or her.
James has harsh words for jealousy but I sat smug in my chair. That is a illness from which I don't suffer. I don't envy these bloggers. I'm not jealous of them. I celebrate them. I encourage them with comments. I share their sites with my friends.
But then he got to humility and my smugness turned to conviction.
I have read post after post about not comparing yourself to other writers, about writing the story God gave you, about how even if one life is touched by your words it is worth doing it. I know. I know. I agree. I've uttered those words. And yet... I'm struggling to accept that God can use anything less than this right here.
And so, my friends, this is pride.
"If I cannot write like that, I will not write at all," says my heart stubbornly, in essence denying that God is smart enough to know what gift and to what measure and for what purpose is ours to have.
I know God has called me to write. I know He has given me tools. I know when I write I am changed and I know that some of you also walk away a little different. So why is that not good enough for me? James would not mince words in telling me that it is because I lack humility to accept my place in the Kingdom of God.
Joan Chittister said that "humility is the admission of God's gifts to me and the acknowledgement that I have been given them for others." Pride is forgetting where those gifts came from but it is also discarding His good gifts and His holy calling in our lives because they are not as important/developed/talent-full/necessary/interesting as other people's.
It was an epiphany.
I have to stop hiding behind my excuses that I only write when I "feel" it, or that maybe God is not really calling me to write, or that I just don't have the time. The truth is I suffer from pride when it comes to my writing. And the road to recovery will be long because those amazing writers are still out there writing away. Temptation to compare and to desist will keep coming. But I took the first step and it was tough: I admitted it. And not just to myself. To a room full of women who know me.
The cure for what ails me is a dose of humility. And there is nothing more humbling that to speak it out loud: I am prideful.
So here is to step two: hit "publish" and pray for the Lord to continue to teach me who He's called me to be.