God has been fairly quiet (with the exception of a few select moments) for, well…a long time. Probably close to a year, actually. I’ve been doing things right: I go to church, I do my devotions, I make it a point to get away and just spend time with no other distractions and just “be” with God, I pray for and with others, yadda yadda. What’s the deal, God?
Baaaad bad bad BAD question to ask. Why? Because he’ll answer. =P
The answer this time wasn’t a pretty one, but it’s one I needed to hear.
I’m currently transitioning away from a sin that’s eaten me alive for years. (I’ve been debating back & forth whether or not to actually say it on my blog. I’ve come to the decision that I currently am not okay with putting it on my blog. I will talk about it with anyone who wants to know. I am completely comfortable doing so, however I have no clue who would use it against me and try to take it out of context, therefore I will not put it in writing on the Internet.) It’s been one that I’ve just recently started fighting against with every bit of will power in me. This is a new thing for me. I’ve fought half-heartedly, I’ve tricked myself into THINKING I was fighting, but truth be told … naaah. When things got difficult, I caved and found an excuse for why I caved. I couldn’t ever justify it, but I continued to tell myself, “Next time. I’ll get it right next time.”
I’ve been heavily convicted, and I’ve been fighting. Hard. Correction. I’ve been fighting, but asking God to continue to fight for me. No, I’m not trying to do it all on my own strength because that has NEVER worked. Just when I think things are going okay with fighting this, God convicts me of something else that I wasn’t even seeing: Pride. I am an incredibly prideful person. We’re not talking just momentarily prideful, we’re talking constant hardcore, unbelievably, inexcusably prideful. A sense of entitlement. Jealousy. Critical of everything. It’s nothing but pride, which is one of the roots of my sin (and sin of the human race, actually).
I’m a junior music major who just happened to get lucky enough to make it into Chorale on the first try my freshman year. Since then I’ve worked my rear end off. I earned my stripes. Upper classmen told me so before my first year was even through. The “newness” and shinyness” of Chorale had worn off part of the way through my second semester. I started to see the flaws. I started to see the “double standard” in peoples’ lives. I heard officers using swear words. I knew upper classmen were partying on weekends. I knew people were promiscuous (while we’re being honest, I was a MORON second semester of my freshman year when it came to the opposite sex). And what did I do when I saw this? I judged. Hardcore. I said that if I was ever on leadership, there was no way I would EVER be like that (disclaimer: Hannah does not party or drink, nor has she ever, nor is she being a complete knucklehead with the opposite sex. Praise God for maturity). Sophomore year came, same thing. I heard stories about what people did on weekends and I was disgusted. Ministry?! Chorale as a ministry?! Are you kidding me?! I realized after first semester that I had to stop being so critical. Every ministry has flaws and flawed people. Well, right as I was trying to rid myself of one bad attitude, another started creeping up. Discussion started floating about who would be section leader the next year (this year). My name was floating around, especially after each of us taking Advanced Conducting had to conduct the Chorale as part of our final. Let’s be real here: I did good. I had the piece memorized, I knew the music, and the group responded well to me. C’mon, how could I not be named alto section leader? (Please keep in mind I’m writing this based on the attitude I had the entire time. Hopefully you’ll notice the attitude change from paragraph to paragraph..)
This year..junior year. A week into Chorale and Prof named section leaders. “…and section leader for the altos…Hannah Pate.” Nailed it. Surprised? Nah. I was the only one who’d been through both Beginning and Advanced Conducting and Choral Techniques, so technically I was the only option, regardless of whether or not I was actually good enough to get the job done (for those of you in Chorale, being a good section leader is HARD. I don’t think I was a good one, but even TRYING to be has been difficult. Be nice to the future Mama Altos, Mama Sopranos, Papa Tenors, and Big Daddy Basses. ;) ) I met with each of the altos individually at the beginning of the year so each of them would know I cared about them and wanted them to do well. This wasn’t a publicity stunt for me – it was me wanting them to know that no matter what, if something goes wrong, if they needed help, etc, they could come to me. That’s what I was there for. I still kept the standard in Chorale rehearsal, I still worked. And somewhere along the way, pride set in. This year I’ve caught myself being extremely jealous of the girls Prof has chosen for solos. I’ve been upset because, hey, wait just a second.. I’m working my butt off, yet I don’t see one dime of scholarship or service grant money, I don’t get solos, no pat on the back, no nothin’. Something seems unfair.
If I were in that group singing for Christ and Christ only, that should outweigh everything. If I’m on those risers for the reasons I SAY I’m on those risers, then who cares if I don’t have a solo? Who cares if I don’t see a little bit of grant money? What the heck does it matter?! Christ outweighs ALL of that, right?! Well, not over the past few years He hasn’t…
To prove this even more…
This Sunday. Easter Sunday. This was the first Easter since I started singing at Sterling that I wasn’t helping lead. Last year the band did a LEGIT a cappella arrangement of Redeemer, Savior, Friend. The whole band. Drummer, bass player, electric, pianist.. everyone sang it. Sah-weeeet. I sang a solo that went so well I couldn’t believe it (totally God on that one. I wasn’t well when I sang). I got a whole lotta compliments after that. Honestly, that week I wasn’t so much paint-on-the-‘it’s-for-God’ face. It was legit. Ed had just died, I was a spiritual wreck, and I can’t recall a time I wasn’t sincere in the middle of a tragedy. Anyway. Back to this year. I was pretty upset when I realized there was no room for me in the band for that Sunday, and the flute/guitar duo Dave and I were going to do pre-service wasn’t going to fit. My ego was deflated. This was when I realized that, oh my stars, I need a serious pride and attitude check. Never in my life have I been more like Satan than I have been for many moments throughout the past few years.
I’m pleading with God for him to take me back. Folks, this is the very thing that got Satan kicked out of heaven. “Pride cometh before the fall.” Satan thought he could equal up to God. That’s his goal; to get us to believe that we can be just as good as God. And how lovely a job he does at making it look like it’s actually for good! He tricked Eve. He told her she’d be just like God. On the outside, that looks perty darn good. And isn’t that what we strive for? To “be holy, as He is holy?” I think we’re looking at that verse incorrectly. We’re to be obedient. God spoke those words in the Old Testament. He was looking for obedience, because Israel was very, very far from being obedient. In this life, we aren’t, nor can we be like God. We cannot be holy as he is holy. He is innately holy. We are innately sinful. However, that does not excuse us from being obedient. I have not been obedient. I’m terrified that God is looking at me and saying, “Wow, really? I can compare you with my exact opposite. I can compare you with darkness. Your heart is hardly better than his. What do I care if you call me the Christ? The demons do that as well, and shudder. Do you even shudder? Are you at all reverent of who I am? Of what my name means? Of the power my name alone holds? Are you so stone cold?”
This is a dangerous place to be, friends. To be quite honest, I’m the most prideful person I know. I make myself sick. Really. Even David Hasslehoff is more humble than I am. You know you’re in bad shape when you can say that…
So, here’s Part 1 of a Confessions series. Pride. I’m not sure when I’ll write another one. It may be the next one, it may not be til next month or next year. I don’t write it for pity and I don’t write it so people say, “Hannah, no that’s not true! You’re being too hard on yourself.” No, friends. I’m not being too hard on myself. It would be dangerous for you to say that when God has made it so clear that I’m prideful. ;) Don’t tell God he’s wrong. That never goes well. =P Save yourself that mess and take my advice.
My challenge for you is that you examine your own life. Where does your sense of entitlement lie? Mad because someone got a raise before you because clearly you’re a better candidate? Upset because you’re being replaced? Whatever the reason, ask yourself why you’re reacting in such a way. Chances are it’s because we’ve built entitlement into our lives without even realizing it. It’s a dangerous place to be, friends.
“The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Pray on, friends. Pray on.