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The Scourge of Pride January 26, 2010

Posted by markgeil in People, Philosophical musings, Posts with titles that sound like a horror movie.
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My dear wife is planning a party. I’m the party guy in our house, but not the planning guy, so sometimes she plans the parties and I simply reap the benefits. It’s not fair. See, there’s an introvert/extrovert thing going on. I am energized by people. I quite enjoy bouncing around a room, chatting with this person, then that person. Amy, on the other hand, while certainly not anti-social, is not big on chatting. The very idea drains her. But she is gifted at planning and I am not. So, she still plans parties for me. It’s love.

This party is different, though. Sure, this party will have music, and snacks, and even chatting, but it will also have saws and drills and possibly even tool belts. This is a drywall hanging party, and though it’s right up my alley, I would not have planned it myself.

We’ve been finishing our basement for years, and we even have one room (the bathroom, surely the most important of all) actually finished. The gradual process has been a drag sometimes, but it’s also helped us think through what we want out of every room. Now, the gradual process is accelerating. A new location is needed for the Monday night Bible study that Sarah and I attend, and we’ve been planning the biggest room in the basement for that very purpose. So, as of yesterday, I have two weeks to finish the Bible study room.

Deadlines are very good things for me. I can pack the work in if I know a deadline is looming. So, I’ve packed the work in, and now the room is almost completely ready for drywall, painting, and flooring, the final touches that abruptly make a space of studs and wires look finished. Thus, the party. Come to our house and hang drywall! And possibly even slop the mud and tape on the drywall! I can see the engraved invitations now.

We are fortunate to know lots of folks with lots of experience hanging drywall. They are mostly guys, buddies of mine (or sons of buddies of mine), and I suspect they would all be happy to come over and lend a hand. So why is Amy planning the party and not me? I asked myself that question last night. Part of the answer is my aforementioned aversion to planning. But that’s not all. There’s an unusual hesitancy here that seems different, and I think I’ve just now figured it out. I don’t like to ask for help.

It’s not that I think I’m inconveniencing someone else. I’ve gone to lend a hand at other peoples’ houses plenty of times, and I actually enjoy it. In fact, the idea of going to someone’s basement to hang drywall sounds really fun to me. It’s making measurements and cutting stuff and getting dirty. It’s a few laughs along the way, and some witty teasing of the person who keeps driving the screw through the paper. It’s takeout pizza and the smell of brownies coming out of the oven upstairs. It’s community personified.

That is all well and good if it’s someone else’s house. I just have this hesitancy about asking all these guys to come over to my house and help me. That hesitancy has a name: pride. To ask for help is to declare your dependency on someone else, even for a brief moment. It says, “I can’t do this alone,” and too often that question leads me to wonder why and to puff myself up into a defiant declaration: “Sure I can! I’m good enough, and skilled enough, and I don’t need any help!” Oh, the scourge of pride.

I think that every single sin contains an element of pride. Consequently, I try hard to remind myself of my dependency on God, of my need for grace to “save a wretch like me.” I say prayers that say, “God, I am lost without You; teach me to rely on You completely.” But then I won’t ask for help from a bunch of guys when I need to hang some drywall. I won’t admit when I’ve made a mistake. I spend great effort developing a persona of all encompassing adequacy and ability. I speak of humility to God while the pride still rattles around like a rusty chain in the back of my head.

So, I have decided to join the party planning. I will ask for help and advice and I won’t pretend I’ve got it covered.  I will learn about community and humility, and as an added benefit, a room will get finished, and 20 high schoolers will have a place to learn about an all-sufficient God.

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