Folk often in the public eye become too well acquainted with pedestals. Occasionally someone familiar with my small corner of influence hoists me up on one. I wish they wouldn’t—I don’t belong there.
They don’t know the real me, you see. At home, dust often collects like fur on my furniture, and I don’t always vacuum under things. Clean laundry often stays in the basket till it’s permanently cubed. I’d rather paint walls than wash them. I only clean the outside of my windows when the outdoors looks almost extinct.
(No, my mother didn’t raise me that way. If Jesus had come back when I was growing up at 2910 Murray Street, my mother would have told him (albeit politely) to hold his apocalyptic horses until she finished sweeping the floor.)
There’s more: I eat too much too often. I’m crabby sometimes. Downright nasty occasionally with the man I love best, and often selfish. I catch myself judging people. I have miles to go when it comes to loving people like Christ.
I’ve also battled something pedestals easily generate. Something the Bible says God especially hates. Pride. It began in childhood when I realized I could do things not all my friends could do. Sing. Make nice speeches. I could also wiggle my ears, flare my nostrils, make my neck grow at will and speak in fake tongues on command. (Now I can do all four at the same time and I’m not even a Charismatic.)
These days, each time I’m tempted to the sin of pride over others’ opinions regarding something I am or do, I imagine God’s reaction. “Give her time,” perhaps he says to the angels, “the humble pie’ll fly to her face all by itself.
It always does. I gulped a slice the other day, when forced to admit I’d been mistaken about something I’d insisted was true. I choked down another one as I confessed to a friend who thanked me for praying for her that I’d clean forgotten. And I’ve practically had to eat several humble pies at once when a reader of one of my published works—book, column or article—points out a spelling or grammar error.
Nevertheless, God has patiently taught me things about pride. As good as it feels to have the admiration of others, pedestals are simply too narrow for a stable existence. I’ve tumbled down too many times, and where pride is involved, there’s no safety net. Just so you know, it’s a free fall right to the un-cushioned bottom. Lost face waits down there, pain and the bitter disappointment of others. Especially God.
As I mentioned, I do my best to stay on level ground these days. (I also try never to hoist others onto pedestals. When they fall, it hurts me too.)
Only Jesus deserves a pedestal. Instead, for the love of you and me, he chose the humility and horror of a cross. His followers must be willing to do likewise.