This reflection isn’t about the kind of pride that “cometh before the fall.” Nor is it about the pride from which you might be urged to repent during this Lenten season. Pride isn’t always a sin, right? In fact, the first two definitions in my handy Webster’s II dictionary make that very clear.

The first definition refers to self-respect, that is, in Webster’s-speak, “a sense of one’s own proper value or dignity.” Nothing wrong with that. The second entry focuses on “pleasure or satisfaction taken in one’s work [or] achievements…” Again, right and good, and far from sinful. If the old Biblical Proverb about pride leading to destruction were aimed at those first two definitions, we’d all be walking around with shoulders slouched, heads down in shame, with sharp pebbles in our shoes. 100_2673_edited-1.JPG

And that boy in this picture doesn’t look as if he’s suffering from pride on the brink of destruction. No, look at that face! Pleasure and satisfaction, a proper value set indeed. He’s put together a mixed media representation of his Nana and Papa, and even Papa looks proud of the boy’s gift. [Full disclosure: this is the first picture in this series that I didn’t actually take. Nana took it.]

I once lived in a place where Puritan-like values still had deep roots. One elderly woman told me during a pastoral call that she considered “kidding” to be dishonest; it didn’t tell the truth. And if one referred to “pride,” well that old proverb was the first thing that came to mind. But if we called it “self-respect?” That redeemed the situation nicely.

Pride is not exactly something we strive for. Isn’t it more the reward for something accomplished that turned out well, even better than we had hoped? Maybe it was our doing, or more likely our doing along with someone else’s cooperation, a bit of grace, and some good luck. Personally, I am so very proud of my kids (Joan hints that since they are adults now, maybe “kids” isn’t the right word…but “children” sure isn’t either. Progeny? Offspring? Nope. Has to be “kids.”) They are solid. Good. Accomplished. Loving. Giving. So, of course, I am proud of them. I take pride in them. And in my grandchildren too!

I am also proud of my work. Not all of it, but a lot of it. I am in touch with so many people my work touched in some way. Maybe my writing, my media stuff… maybe I got by on “personality” or that “sense of humor” so high on the list of attributes churches want in their pastors. I seek no pardon for feeling good about my work as a minister or friend. I’m even proud of many of the photos I’ve been sharing so publically in this blog. So be it.

(There are some things/times in my life of which I am not so proud. But I’m not writing about humility today, OK?)

Lest my personal sense of pride lead to my fall, I must emphasize the direct correlation between pride and one other state of the heart: gratitude. If one is blessed to have reason to be proud, one must be filled with gratitude for the pure grace that fills one’s life. I hereby announce that I am grateful to God for my family and for my work.

I’ll close by writing of the Nana (AKA Joan) so nicely pictured in Tyler’s artwork. I am so proud of her, too. I’d list the reasons, but I’d exceed the WordPress wordcount limits. It is enough to say that my heart is filled with thanksgiving for her, her gifts, and her love. I am proud, yes, proud I had the courage to ask her to marry me almost 50 years ago. And thankful she said yes. Must have been my sense of humor.

Amen.

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