The cure for the trifecta of pride, anxiety, and low self-esteem is not thinking less of yourself, but of yourself less.
This Advent season, we have been asked to reflect on what “God with us” means. I started to mull this over in my mind. What does it mean that God is with us? In what ways have I seen God with me in my life? It didn’t take long for me to zero in on how I know God has been with me in life this year; He has been confronting my pride.
I am an anxious person. If you asked my Life on Life group what my biggest struggle is, they would tell you that it is anxiety. Yet lurking underneath the anxiety and low self-esteem, there is also a deadly sense of pride. This year I have come to realize how intertwined these characteristics are. They are a little trifecta where if one is seen, the others are sure to be there. While on the surface we may see one of those characteristics more strongly in a person than the other, believe me, they are all there.
I’ll use Donald Trump as an example. I think most people would agree that Donald Trump is a proud person. But I would hypothesize that it is his overblown pride that clues you in to his anxiety and low self-esteem. He speaks very highly of himself all the time, but I think it is out of fear that we will see his flaws and shortcomings. The overblown pride is a way to mask the anxiety and low self-esteem he desperately hopes no one will see. In this way, I’m more like Trump than I would have first imagined. Aren’t we all afraid that people will see who we are deep inside and reject us?
The reason I’m anxious is because I don’t trust that God knows best for me. I think I do. What’s more prideful than that? Yet Proverbs 8:13 tells me that God hates pride:
“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
In fact, the proverbs associate pride with a lot of things: fools, disgrace, strife, and destruction. No candy coating there. It is something that needs to be stripped from my life. I think the medicine for pride is contained within this quote from Tim Keller’s article, ‘The Advent of Humility:’
He goes on to say:
The phrase “blessed self-forgetfulness” resonates with me. I can think of times when I sort of wished I could take a vacation from being me. The thing is, I can. This is what it means to have God with us. My fears of rejection have no grounding in who I am in Christ.
If you are like me and struggle with this same trifecta, let me suggest that we get over ourselves and look at Jesus. He is the forever vacation from your self. If I spend less time thinking about myself and spend more time thinking about the God who is with me and I am united to, I cannot go wrong. My plan is to spend time specifically praying that God would bless me with self-forgetfulness. I think it will help me to better understand what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).