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When Humility Beats Pride



There has to be a certain level of pride that lives inside me. For example, each time I open a new blank page and start typing, somewhere I believe that someone will find my life interesting enough to get lost in for the next 5 minutes.

Each morning I wake up and spend more than a few minutes in the mirror trying to look effortlessly pretty and only leave that position when I am prideful enough to believe that goal has been accomplished.

I mentor young girls based on my belief that I actually have something to offer them by sharing my life experiences. I get frustrated when it appears as though they haven’t listened and learned and then they make the opposite decision I had hoped they would.

I wish these were the only instances in life where pride exhibited itself in my belief patterns and thought processes, but these are only the beginnings. And lately, it would seem that my awareness of my belief of how great I am has really been brought to the forefront of my attention.

A week or two ago, I returned home from a fantastic vacation only to enter into a bit of adult drama. It appears as though all is not well on the pastor’s kid homefront. My oldest had been acting up during VBS. He was caught sitting in church pews with his feet spread eagle on the row in front of him. He volunteered to take out the trash, only to be found tossing it helter-skelter across the rear parking lot. He was also caught secretly whispering to the child next to him that he can’t stand that boy’s mom. It was great. An entire year’s worth of difficult situations culminated to the point of no return during this particular week, less than 24 hours after my return.

Now this obviously isn’t the entire story, there are several instances of provocation that has encouraged an attitude of disrespect to begin to grow inside my son. So, as you can imagine, the mama-bear that resides inside of me couldn’t be tranquilized any longer. I made a phone call to the powers that be in Children’s Ministry and asked them a simple question, "Can you or can’t you teach my child?"

Did you hear that? That pride, the accusation, the threat? The next couple of days I spent hashing it out with close friends. I took to heart one statement, "If you don’t stand up for your children, who will?", and ran with it. Self-justification was all I needed. I don’t have a problem, this isn’t about me.

The next day, one of the women I had called came up and gave me a big hug and thanked me for getting it off my chest. She said she understood that everyone has bad days, even children. I was convinced she was luring me back in for the kill.

That evening, I went to work. My thoughts wandered aimlessly from the day’s events. As I made lattes and sampled pastries, I conversed with myself about several frustrations. I was finished, I decided, with this town and these people. It was time to move on to the next adventure. Things were becoming difficult and difficult isn’t for me. Resolution isn’t for me. Admitting fault isn’t for me.

As we closed, a customer began talking with the bombshell of a brunette I was working with that night. He and his friend had been studying, as they regularly do. I remembered because one evening I expressed concern over the eight shots of espresso the second gentleman was consuming. He reassured me that sleep was never the issue; it was the process of being awake that he was obviously having trouble with. Anyway, the first guy wanted to exchange names with my co-worker and kindly included an inquiry toward my direction. Needing a distraction from my thoughts of self-pity, I shared my name and inquired about the background and the uniqueness of his name.

Bad idea. I have learned two very important lessons while working. First, never ask a woman when her baby is due. Second, do not mess with American pride. My suggestion that this young man’s name might have an origin other than American brought a very harsh defense from his friend. Horrified at my mistake, I closed my mouth and lifted my chin as if to say, "My pride is just as great as yours."

In one respect, his reprimand was a blessing. It gave me something else to stew over for the rest of the night. That evening I went home and blocked out my embarrassment by reminding myself: I don’t have a problem, this isn’t about me. And I will never, ever serve that guy coffee again! Pride, self- righteousness, and a little bit of a temper tantrum, I know.

Did I learn anything about my response? Not until a few days later.

My very next shift (which isn’t very often seeing as I usually only work once a week), I arrived a little early to catch the Sunday paper and enjoy my own cup of coffee. Wouldn’t you know who walked in the door just as I sat down. Now I might have a few areas of weakness when it comes to making promises, but this wasn’t one of them. I patiently waited to clock in until after he had ordered and breathed a prayer of thanks that he had sat in a spot hidden behind the espresso machine where I wouldn’t have to make eye contact. Mission complete, the rest of my night should have been a breeze.

Except that he came to talk to me. I was blocked between the ice bin and the espresso bar and to turn around would have been visibly rude, so I was stuck. With my defenses up and excuses for disdain rehearsing their lines repeatedly in my mind, I greeted him with a steady gaze. I was ready to get him a glass of water or fix his drink or whatever it was he needed without ever saying a word. I know this was immature and resembles teenage behavior, but I am being honest. However, what he said next was not something I had mentally prepared for.

He apologized.

Here was this gentleman who had humbled himself to a complete stranger to come and apologize for something that he wasn’t even sure had bothered me or not. His apology sucked the wind out of my self-righteous sails.

God says a gentle answer will turn away wrath. Somewhere it must also state that an act of humility will shine light on man’s pride. I left that evening with a more complete perspective on how to treat humanity, how to be kind to a neighbor.

I am not so important that everyone is out to get me. We do genuinely have bad days. And the simple act of an apology can cover those bad days with a glimpse into the character of God. So no, life isn’t all about me. I have struggled with a critical spirit for a long time, but never have I personally realized that criticism stems from pride. Sometimes the most precious lessons and gentlest reprimands from God are spoken through the mouth of a stranger.

The Children’s Ministry volunteer who tried to kill me with a hug called today to offer me a few heads of lettuce and a bundle of fresh spinach from her garden. At first, I thought she might be trying to poison me. On second thought . . . the money saved can purchase another latte.

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor’s wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for “bad girls” — helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life … and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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When Humility Beats Pride

by Marian Green time to read: 5 min