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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

Tripping on Pride

I don't ask for directions.

I know that men are stereotyped for not asking for directions. We may not all be that way, as stereotypes tend to be unfairly general.

But this one applies to me.

I don't ask for directions.

My wife, The Bride, who has ridden in the car with me for many years now, knows how this works:

  • We are driving to a place I've been to before, leaving more than enough leeway to arrive on time

  • I confidently drive the first 90% of the trip without a second thought

  • We reach a critical point in the journey (sometimes I can see the destination!)

  • I go to turn and it's a one way, I can't turn.

  • I improvise, go to the next block and turn, but can't double back to where I was going (note, this often, but not always, occurs in Boston, a city well known for being unpleasantly difficult to navigate.)

  • I improvise some more, as The Bride asks, should I call and tell them we're running late? No, I assure her, we're almost there. (sigh)

  • Another wrong turn and she suggests we ask directions. No, I'll find it. (sigh)

  • The Bride secretly turns on GPS to see if the answer lies there or how truly lost we are. If my daughter is with us, she has already done the same. (we are now officially late. Oh, yes, I forgot, sigh...).

  • I eventually figure it out. (I mean, it's right there...)

Over the years I have wasted entire decades driving around or searching the web or doing my job or working around my house, failing repeatedly, frustrating myself and those I love, ripping at the shreds of self-esteem I have left, and ultimately costing myself time, money and, while I still had some, hair.

So why do I, and many otherwise functional men (AND women) not ask for help?

  1. We overestimate our abilities - we fancy ourselves competent, and even though we know nothing about, say, birthing a calf, we think we should be able to figure it out.

  2. We don't want to seem stupid - ironically, if I tried to birth a calf without asking for help, that might be the very definition of stupid. (Your experience may differ.)

  3. We're ashamed that we don't know - part of feeling stupid is feeling as though you should know how to do this, after all you've done it before, you've seen it done hundreds of times or, how difficult can it be? Calves have been born for, like, decades.

  4. We underestimate others ability to help - Farmer Brown is over-weighted in fixed income instruments in his Roth IRA. He's only 41, he should be in stocks! How can he possibly help me birth a calf?

  5. We claim faith - normally this is a good thing, because the Lord provides exactly what we need, when we need it, and believe me, I ask Him. BUT. The Lord may provide that assistance in the form of an experienced bystander, GPS, a (literal) sign, or a gas station with someone who knows the neighborhood. (He might also handle the birth Himself, or pick your car up and place it in a legal parking spot right in front of the restaurant. It's up to Him, as we know.)

There are other reasons, but they generally come down to one serious problem, one that we all struggle with to one degree or another: Pride. We don't want to depend on others, or even technology, to solve problems. We want to depend on ourselves.

As noted above, the Lord will solve your problem, in His own way in His perfect timing. His own way may include jogging your memory or your creativity in solving the problem. He may reward you for trusting yourself.

But we have to understand that he is not just a vending machine or a genie, granting wishes when you push the button or rub the lamp. He is working on you, crafting you, refining you. You are his work of art, and problems and challenges are a few of the tools He uses to complete this work.

Many times, the vexing problems we face, from needing directions to selecting a career to deciding whether to undergo another surgery when the last one didn't work, are used by God to get us to surrender. To stop relying solely on ourselves. To look to Him for answers. For solutions. For salvation.

The Lord is faithful. He finishes what He starts. He does not quit and He does not fail. Not even your insistence on self-reliance will stop Him. Your pride, though a sin, is no obstacle to God. He will, however, use it on you. He will, however, humble you. He will, however, have His way.

He will not coddle or cajole or negotiate with you. He will not surrender. If you fight Him, you will lose.

On the upside - THE upside - God loves you more than you can imagine. Truly, just as you can fathom the creation of the universe, or the internal design of a lilac bush, you cannot understand the width, breadth and height of God's love for you. He is our Father in heaven. And like any good father, He teaches, corrects and disciplines His children. He also lavishly blesses us with absolutely everything we see and cannot see. Every good thing comes from Him.

Every. Single. Good. Thing.

For those of us struggling with pride and its ugly cousin self-reliance, may I suggest just one step, one way to begin conquering this obstacle? Allow one advisor, counselor, mentor, instructor, Father, into your inner circle of one: Ask Jesus.

Ask Him for what you need.

Ask Him for His help, His infinite wisdom, logic, resources and people.

Ask Him for His solutions to your problems.

Ask Him for His direction to reach any literal or figurative destination

Ask Him for any good thing, and it will be yours.

God bless you.



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