Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint Exupery
The quote above is something that I personally need to remember. Of the many things I need to “take away,” the biggest thing I need to dispose of is pride. As a child, I was taught to be self-sufficient, and that’s a good thing; but one can take self-sufficiency to the extreme and become prideful. It has been a constant life-long struggle for me to remember that my Heavenly Father is standing with His arms open waiting for me to ask for His help. I am like the two-year-old child who says, “I want to do it myself!”
Pride takes on many forms and happens for many reasons. Reading in The Book of Mormon, pride seems to come either because of wealth or power. I have never been wealthy, nor have I ever been in a position of power, so my own pride must come from someplace else. After a lot of soul-searching, I think my pride originally came from a need to protect myself as a tiny, sickly child from the bullies of the world. Pride was learned as a reaction to a problem, but it became a habit—one that has been very difficult to break.
When I’m so busy “doing it myself,” and my Heavenly Father is standing in the wings waiting to be asked, my life is usually swirling out of control. It isn’t until I buckle and cry “uncle,” that I realize how ungrateful and stupid I’ve been. Then I can humble myself, receive the help I need, and move on.
It would be so much easier if I would learn to stop the cycle of pride in my life. As I look back over the worst moments in my past, they have all revolved around that silly pride. Once I humble myself and let God help me, the raging waters are stilled.
Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.”
When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Apr. 1989 General Conference).
In my own case, it is usually that my pride makes me lose my freedom to the bondage of my own judgment, and then I can’t hear the Holy Ghost. Isn’t it interesting that I grab hold of my own judgment and won’t let go thinking I am gaining independence, when in fact I’m losing my independence and freedom? Pride makes us surrender freedom to the adversary. When we are too proud to listen to God, who are we listening to?
If perfection is indeed what we are working towards, then I would think the very first thing we need to take away is the pride in our hearts. When pride is taken away, it is always replaced with humility.
I’m slowly learning to include Heavenly Father in all my decisions. This has not been easy for me. In the past, I’ve included Him in the big decisions, but not the everyday decisions. The problem with that is that the everyday decisions are often the decisions that change the course of our lives.
I remember fervent prayers before I married my husband, at times when I was making career moves, and when we purchased our home. I prayed long and hard over decisions to have our children. I humbly prayed when our children were ill so that I would know how to help them. On the flip side, there were thousands of little decisions I made on my own that probably would have had a better result had I consulted with God. The little things sometimes turn out to be the big things.
So how do I rid myself of pride? Now, that’s the $64,000 question. I’ve been working at it for a long time, and while I’m getting better, I still have a long way to go. Frankly, I would appreciate any suggestions my readers might have in the comments. Currently, what I am doing is reading the scriptures every day so that my mind is constantly on spiritual matters. I’m trying to make my daily prayers more meaningful. I’m doing that by pausing to collect my thoughts before I pray so that I’m
not just rattling off words to bounce off the ceiling. I’m trying to really converse with God—in a two-way conversation. That means I’m taking the time after my prayer to really listen for answers and any revelation He wants to impart.
As we all are trying to perfect our behavior and our character, there are many things that we need to take away. This week, think about what you need to take away, and then begin the process.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.