The Catholic theologians of old had it right when they named pride as one of the seven deadly sins. But let me reword that just a little. You know of my struggle with the word “sin” and the connotation that it involves condemnation from God. The original meaning of the word “sin” as the Apostle Paul used it, means “missing the mark.” That is when we do something that falls short of the standard God has given us, we miss the mark.
“I'm so proud of the fact that I'm humble.” I frequently say that in jest. But only partly so, because I understand how insidious pride is. It is truly a two-edged sword, and if it doesn't get you on the forward swing, it will definitely get you on the back swing.
For the sake of argument, let's give each of the blades of pride a name. When you refuse to see that you have faults, that is the blade that comes at you with the forward swing. It is called, “arrogance.” When you see that you have faults and you try to hide them from others because of embarrassment, that is the blade that cuts your legs off on the back swing. That blade is called, “shame.”
Yes, shame is not the opposite of pride, it is just pride coming from the opposite direction. Shame says to you, “I am not perfect, therefore I am embarrassed.” In this case, pride causes you to hate yourself.
Arrogance says, “I am perfect and beyond reproach. I have no need to change.” Arrogance precludes self examination. Arrogance places a condition on your love for self, and builds an illusion resembling, but far from unconditional love. Shame merely seeks to cover the fault, not to resolve it. Arrogance never acknowledges fault. Either way, pride brings spiritual growth to a halt, and it will eventually totally annihilate any growth that may have gone before.
In years past, if I went a period without finding cause to hate myself, I had the false sense that I had not fallen short of perfection and that I must be growing. Now, I see the folly and the work of pride. Now, if I seemed to have successfully navigated through the many temptations and invitations to imperfection, I no longer have a sense of smugness. In fact, quite the contrary; I have a deep sense of gratitude to my spirit guides who advised me and guided me through those dark and dangerous straits. At the same time, I know there are many failures about which I have not yet become aware. For everything I've done right, I have fallen short on at least a hundred others. Never the less, I bow in gratitude and joy before my God, Who is the lover of my soul, and I see Him smile, knowing that I finally have learned to lean on those divine servants He has provided to see me through this life. Even so, don't get the idea that I think I have arrived. Believe me, my guides continue to push me to deal with other issues that are now clearly visible that weren't so visible before.
And today, I have felt a peace that I have not felt for many years. I finally feel at home with myself. I am finally learning to be real with myself, and learning to love myself unconditionally. That means I see my faults, and I work to resolve them, not hide them. And I also see my attitudes toward others changing, as well. I don't spend near the time judging as I may have in the past.