Pride and shame are the two extremes of the same continuum. We are proud of some things, indifferent about others, and most certainly ashamed of things that are too close to us to be indifferent about, and yet do not generate that chest inflating, smile inducing, publicity seeking pride. We boast in what we are proud of, put it on display, make sure that everybody knows. It is not always a conscious effort, but an instinct, a reflex that surpasses even our own will. We boast in good jobs, in popular friends, in power to make decisions, in those pretty and witty significant others, in possessions… each has their own. We pursue those things restlessly, because they often are that best foot that we put forward, in relationships with both people and God.
On the other side there is an equally strong, if not a stronger reflex to be ashamed of things that do not add anything to what we are when they are put on display. No disciple volunteered to wash the others' feet before the Last Supper. Nobody wants to hang out with a geek. Nobody boasts in their dysfunctional family. Everybody wants to serve dinner for a charity event, but how many want to clean up afterwards? Unless, of course, somebody sees and recognizes our sacrifices and humble work of service, to make sure that our names go down in history and are eventually canonized. We often look at so many things in life the same way we look at the Canadian Olympic hockey team, with a single charge: Make Us Proud!, or else you be tossed into the lake of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (or, as an alternative, I will find someone or something else that will)
And now some perspective:
I will not boast in anything: no gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ: His death and Resurrection.
Why should I gain from his reward? I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart: his wounds have paid my ransom.
I don’t want to boast in the fact that I need to ransomed, or that I am gaining from somebody else’s reward. I am proud of the fact that I am independant and I can do it. To genuinely let somebody know that daily I am by the hair pulled out of the suffocating swamp of everything that is the real me, it adds nothing to my profile. So, even when it comes to faith, I boast in my moral and self-righteous life-style and in the work of my church; not in the fact that I am a “sinful and selfish [wo]man. But God has put his hands on me.”
Christ is rarely my best foot to put forward. There are many things that reflect me so much better!
But do they?
How does one find a balance, so that the words of that song on a Sunday morning do not bear witness to one’s hypocrisy?