My Sole’s Desire

If ever there was an unsinkable sin, it is pride.

Just when you think you’re finally getting the upper hand, in it pops into your heart again like sand from the beach in your shoes. That’s the darned nuisance of it! It is too small to notice, until it builds up and grates on your sole (soul). And when you finally pay attention to it and start shaking it out, it just never seems to go away. You can’t SEE anymore of it, but once you put your shoes back on and start walking – there it is again, annoyingly irritating!

And if, by some miracle of grace you manage to free yourself from its clutches for a little while, don’t get too comfortable …

It lies in wait, silently stalking the unsuspecting prey. Let him feel secure … let him think himself safe … the safer he feels, the easier to hunt him …

Sure enough, just when you thought it was safe to go outside …

BANG!!!

Back to square one, yet again (sigh).

Why is it so hard?

Is it because we so easily confuse our need for self esteem with its correlating vice, the need for the approval of others? Or is it because we think so little of ourselves that we need to invent things to feel good about? Why must I be great / special / popular / successful / wealthy / powerful / admired / (fill in your own brand of pride here)???

Why can I not just accept that this is who I am, this is how God made me, and that He knows what He’s doing? If I could drum it into my thick head that God actually loves me as He made me, and stop trying to impress Him, or me or anyone else, life would be SO much simpler. “But by the grace of God, I am what I am” said St Paul.

Perhaps that’s what it takes. He said that because he knew that all his life he had to live with the knowledge that he had previously been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent, gentle Christians. That sort of burden weighs you down so much that there isn’t a lot of room left for pride underneath it.

When we are most broken, then we are closest to God…

Perhaps, then, the answer lies in learning to know myself truly, learning to understand my profound weakness on the one hand, and God’s immeasurably greater mercy and love on the other.

Oh well … “In your patience possess ye your soles”.

Fr Ant

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5 Replies to “My Sole’s Desire”

  1. I guess as St. Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” He also observed, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance. “

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  2. I once heard a sermon by the late Fr Matthew the Poor from which one phrase has always stuck in my mind. He said, “We do not touch God when we pray, or when we read the Bible, or when we fast, or when we go to Church, or when do metanias … we only touch God when we humble ourselves before Him”. To do those other things without humility is likely to be ineffective.

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  3. “Why must I be great / special / popular / successful / wealthy / powerful / admired / (fill in your own brand of pride here)???”
    Abouna this is very true a lot of the time we Consern our-selves with this notion of i must be ALL those things!

    Why do i really need the latest phone/camera/car/house/(fill in your own brand of goods), why do i NEED to beat this person for this promotion?.

    I remember something abouna gabriel said to me once “don’t try and be st george or st mina or st bishoy, just be ‘st shenouda’ (in your case st ). Be yourself in otherwords.

    May God protect us from this GREAT sin, because I think Almost ALL sins are somehow connected to this illusive PRIDE! (scary)…may god grant us a knowledge of ourselves to know who we really and grant us humility in our hearts.

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  4. Abouna how can we differentiate between self-esteem/feeling good about what we have achieved and the sin of pride. for example if i get a good mark at school, a promotion in work etc i tend to feel good about myself and what i have just done. is that a sense of pride?

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  5. Hi Abraam
    There is nothing wrong in rejoicing when you do something well, providing you give the credit where it is really due. Where did your good mark come from? Yes, you worked hard (I hope). But did you make yourself intelligent, or was it God who gave you intelligence? Did you choose a family for yourself that loved you and nourished and protected you and sent you to school, or was it God who put you in that family? Did you create your own conscience, or was it God who embedded in you the sense of knowing right from wrong? I could go on, but you get my drift?

    In fact, the more you love God, the more you WANT to give Him the praise – it makes you happy to see Him recognised as He deserves.

    Pride comes when we steal that recognition that belongs to Him selfishly for ourselves.

    The things we really deserve to be praised for are usually things that we have never even noticed (see the post for Nov 14th – “Is anyone hungry?”)

    Fr Ant

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