My next surgery is looming at three weeks away. This time they’ll be removing my top, right rib, and no they can’t make a boyfriend out of it, my dad already asked. As I get closer to surgery I’m getting closer to God–literally and figuratively. I’m hopefully just kidding about the literally part; the surgery is supposed to be pretty safe. Anyway, God is using this time to teach me a lot about pride.
I have a pride problem.
But, it’s not in the overly boastful, puffed-up-chest, obvious pride problem. No, this is much worse. I have the type of pride problem that doesn’t believe I have a pride problem but thinks I’m as humble as they come. I pretty much embodied false humility.
Stephen Smith wrote a blog post that both defines and includes signs of false humility, and I identified with more than one of these. For the longest time I’ve thought that I earned and deserved every accomplishment and achievement that I encountered. I never acknowledged God’s hand in my abilities, circumstances, or successes. 1 Peter 5:6 states, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor,” (NLT). I wasn’t humbling myself before God, I was relying on my own efforts and abilities because I believed them to be stronger than they were, and stronger than God. See what I mean? Pride issues.
But then something happened. For a few weeks now, God has been opening my eyes to my pride problems through my quiet time, through speaking with others, through sermons and Bible studies, and through circumstances. Piece by piece it was all coming together. Then, last Wednesday, I saw the big picture.
For Spring Break my dad took me down to my sister’s house to help watch the kids. My sister and her family live in a suburb outside of Orlando, FL and they have annual passes to both Disney and Universal. So on Wednesday, we all packed up and headed to Universal Studios for the afternoon. After riding both Harry Potter 4D rides and grabbing some dinner, my brother-in-law took the kids home so my sister and dad could ride roller coasters, and I could go back to Harry Potter World. My dad and sister are OBSESSED with roller coasters and I, in my twenty years of living, had never ridden one. So for some unknown reason that I will never understand, I decided to join them on a roller coaster. We waited in line for maybe ten minutes so I didn’t really have time to talk myself out of it, and during the ride I kept my eyes closed and head back the entire time so it really wasn’t that bad! Except after we got off, I was dizzy, my head felt like it was going to explode from built up pressure, I was incredibly nauseous, I couldn’t walk in a straight line, and it just kept getting worse. Then I remembered…
I JUST HAD BRAIN SURGERY 6 MONTHS AGO.
Yes, it wasn’t until after I made this INCREDIBLY STUPID DECISION that I realized it could be seriously dangerous to my health. I immediately started googling and found dissenting advice from “medical professionals,” AKA wikipedia and WebMD. Some said no roller coasters after brain surgery for six weeks, some said six months, some said six years, and some said never again. Some people said it would most likely cause a subdural hematoma, some people said the pre surgery symptoms would return. I was freaking out and couldn’t walk very well so my brilliant sister went and got me a wheelchair to ride back to the car in. (Side note. If you ever want to be humbled, have your dad wheel you across the entirety of Universal Studios while you cry and little children literally stare and point at you.)
The whole time we were waiting on the wheelchair my dad and I prayed. I have never before in my life prayed intensely and without ceasing, but I did that night. I finally realized I’m weak and stupid and am not fit to make my own life decisions. I prayed that God would heal whatever damage might have been done, that He would take away my pain, and that He would forgive me. I finally realized I’m not worthy of His grace and mercy, but I’m so thankful He gives it to me anyways. I finally stopped relying on my own efforts and strengths and relied on Him. And let me tell you, it was a beautiful thing.
My mom and dad had decided to take me to the ER to ease my worrying, but I fell asleep in the car on the way so my dad just took me to my sister’s house instead. The next morning I woke up for the first time in a long time without a migraine, and I praised God.
God uses my health to humble me, because it’s how He shows me how truly weak I am. The Chiari Malformation, the Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the daily and multiple migraines all serve as a very constant reminder that I’m weak and frail and have nothing to be prideful for, but that only in God am I made strong and secure.
Now just to clarify, I’m not saying I have achieved humility, I’m pretty sure that would be counterproductive. I’m just saying I finally acknowledge I’m not nearly humble enough. I know now that God could never elevate me or use me how He wants or needs with the sin of pride that has been in my heart. I don’t want that or anything else to stand in the way of God’s plan or glory. I do also want to say that we can’t use our weaknesses we acknowledge as a justification and excuse for our sinful actions or behaviors (Romans 5:20-6:2). God has revealed a lot on pride to me, so I’m going to do a series on my lessons in pride, as you’ve probably gathered from the title.
“Seek to do what is right and to live humbly,” Zephaniah 2:3 NLT