I’ve always been super competitive. I like to win. (My friends from college even called me Monica because of the character from “Friends” who was known for her competitiveness and obsessive-compulsiveness.) People have certainly referred to me as stubborn and hard-headed, even opinionated. I’ve always loved a good argument, especially if I get to prove my point…and win! I practiced the mantra, “Never give up—fight until you win!” But I never thought that those characteristics would ever keep me from a relationship with God. I thought it was how He made me. “It’s just how I am…so get over it.” I used to think that my attitude wasn’t my problem—if you didn’t like it, then it was your problem!
Unfortunately, I recently realized that this issue was not only affecting my relationships with other people, but also with God. Sure, I read scriptures and learned about God’s divine plans in church for most of my life, but I never allowed myself to truly “let go and let God.” In fact, I never once considered my desire to “do my best” could actually manifest into a deep desire to control every aspect of my life, including the people I cared about the most. After my melt down in the kitchen floor last August, I felt convicted about all my planning and scheming to do things my own way. I prayed for God to show me how to come closer to Him and give up control. Over those next few months, I learned that God, in fact, did not create me to fight Him. I created my own monster there. He never intended for me to take on all of these struggles on my own. Pride can be so sneaky. I was so prideful that I would have never even recognized that I had a pride issue. Hmmm…
There are a few definitions for pride. One is not that bad. It’s the one where you take pride in something when you work hard for it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Feeling good about something you work hard for is not a sin! But, when you forget to praise God first for the gifts that allowed you to succeed, that’s when it can get ugly. Taking credit for what God is doing in your life might lead you down the path of sinful pride. The “bad” kind of pride is when you start to feel really important and maybe even superior to others…and maybe even to God. Did you know that trying to control outcomes and do things on your own, without God’s help, is a form of pride? How could I have actually thought that I could do anything on my own? No wonder I was always so stressed out; that is a lot of pressure!
Pride can take hold with just a tiny root. Over years of “winning” and fighting hard to prove that I was successful, organized, and worthy of promotions and praises, that tiny root developed into a strong-hold. I knew what I wanted and I went after it—I became successful, organized (or appeared to be), and got promotions! I was working so hard to make all my (worldly) dreams come true. But on the inside, I continued to unravel—all those hopes and dreams were not from God, they were merely molded from what I thought society expected of me. I didn’t even realize how detrimental that could be until I collapsed from the exhaustion and pressure to perform. Pride will destroy you from the inside out.
So how do we overcome pride?
Surrender. I know it’s not that easy. It’s so much harder that just raising a white flag. It’s a lifestyle change. A mindset alteration. A complete makeover. But it’s possible. And freedom will follow.
First, ask God to search you and convict you of anything that is holding you back from surrendering:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139: 23-24)
Next, tell God daily (possibly multiple times a day) that you are surrendering. Surrender your life, your thoughts, decisions, plans, future, fears—everything. Say it out loud: “God, I surrender this day to you. I am leaving all my plans and fears at the foot of the cross today. Please take over my thoughts and actions, my fears, and even my desires. I need more of you, God, and less of me!” If you aren’t convinced…just keep repeating it as many times as you need.
Then remind yourself of God’s promises throughout the day: This is the day the Lord has made! (Psalm 118:24) Hand over the control to Him because He truly is the provider of all things good and will guide you (Psalm 23). Commit every plan and detail to Him and He will establish your plans for you (Proverbs 16:3). His plans are better than yours and He will prosper you and give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). His purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). Put your faith in Him, trust Him, and acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6). He will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). If that isn’t enough, go find more. The Bible is full of promises that God will take complete care of you—if you will just allow Him to do it!
Start now! It’s not easy. And I’m still working on it. I still have to surrender daily! But I’m more aware now. When I start to feel like things are falling apart, I remind myself that my God’s got this. My expectations may need to be adjusted…and I need to TRUST HIM because He has promised to take care of me. No fear—just faith!
What promises from God are you holding tightly to today? Please share them with us in the comment section below!