I’ve written quite a bit about that pride/shame dichotomy and how the two go hand in hand. The flip side of pride is always toxic shame. Pride often walls off an infection, like a moat walls off a castle.
Pride in this context is not simply feeling good about yourself and shame is not ordinary regret, conscience, or Godly sorrow. I am speaking of the toxic versions of these things, things I call too much of me, not enough of Him.
Most of us are familiar with the arrogance of pride, egotistical, domineering, self absorbed, narcissistic. It can be downright obnoxious and controlling.
However, there’s another form of pride that often manifests itself in shyness, in fear and insecurity. Many of us don’t perceive this as pride because it appears timid and fragile, rather then bold, blustery, and arrogant. It is however, pride, a defense mechanism that walls off shame. If you’ve ever seen teen agers with hoodies down over their eyes, trying to shrink into the corner and become the wall, that’s probably pride. No doubt we’ve all been there at some point.
Fear and insecurity often has a whole lot to do with seeking people approval rather than God’s approval, and fearing those shame buttons, fearing rejection, humiliation, and other assorted unkindnesses people often subject each other too.
This kind of pride can manifest itself in writing or public speaking, or dating, or any situation where one must put themselves out there and be vulnerable. All in good humor here, but I tend to cure that by immediately doing something stupid so as to remove all doubt and get it over with. Once one has totally humiliated oneself, things can only get better from there on out.
There is a better way however, less of me and more of Him, were one lays their self, their pride down at the foot of the cross, remembering that in Christ there is no condemnation. That is what generally lurks behind pride, shame and feelings of condemnation. That is not God, He did not give us a spirit of fear or shame and if it is not of God we should deposit it in the proper receptacle.
I suspect that the kind of pride that manifests itself as shyness, insecurity, fear, may well be the most insidious kind of pride, because it is very deceptive and can have deep roots written in shame. People in general tend to approve of this kind of pride in others or are at least less inclined to attack you for it, so it can become a self reinforcing deception.
So why my endless obsession with pride? Because it is painful to us as individuals, because it separates us from God, and because it is often deeply rooted in the world’s weeds of shame.
As Christians we are called to eventually perceive ourselves as Christ sees us, as our higher selves, as our potential, having such value we were worth dying for. It is His approval, His favor we must seek, not the approval or disapproval of other people. When God sees us, He sees Christ’s sacrifice and perfect love within us. He does not see our flaws and imperfections, or rather He sees them but He loves us anyway. We have been ransomed, He has intellectual property rights to us, we are His children.
It’s a really fascinating paradox to me, but when one is in a state of humility, when one has surrendered all and humbled themselves to Jesus Christ (not to other people,) there is no pride, there is no shame, no fear and insecurity, no offense and outrage. God is a Holy God, when you draw Him within you, these things cease to exist because they are not of Him. Less of me, more of Him.
“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Pride is like lugging around a bag of rocks, whether it manifests itself as insecurity and shyness or arrogance and ego. It is a huge burden to bear, a stumbling block to the things we wish to do, to our potential and higher selves. Pride is basically saying I perceive myself as I wish to perceive myself and not as God sees me. It says I value the perceptions and favor of those around me more than I value God’s favor.
Those are harsh words, harsh truths, but they must be said because pride is such a painful burden to bear and the shame it often masks is so harmful to us. For some reason many of us try to cling to our shame, wrapping it around us like a battle cry or something, evidence of the harm that was once done to us somewhere, this trophy we insist on carrying around. There is no victory in that however, it is a deception, a vanity.
Christ says, let it go and I’ll make you whole.