Where’s your pride?

Sticks and stones will break your bones
but names will never hurt you

…that’s a crock of bull…Names are extremely painful. All kinds of words can conspire to hit you in the middle and throb.

Each person has a sense of themselves. I am not the only one to have a way that I wish to be seen, a presentation of myself projected to others. I want to be seen as clever, or funny, or good-looking. All three even.

But when others poke a hole in my bubble, when they dash my polished surface. They could show me up as stupid. Or not laugh at my jokes. Or something much more embarrassing.

Something that makes me feel like everything about me is undesirable and even despised.

Uhhll. That’s a horrible feeling.

I want to be loved. I want to be accepted and cherished.

That doesn’t always happen. There are times when I am very NOT.

It’s ironic, because I know that I am not always desirable and lovable. I live with me every day. I know my flaws.

Then again, it is especially painful when I hear from others about a flaw I was unaware of. How withering to learn that they outfit I thought so cute has a big hole in it. Or the speech habit I thought endearing was percieved as condescending.

It’s a sick, skin-crawling self-loathing feeling. It’s the sort of feeling I want to be rid of as soon as possible, but it lingers.

I remember one particular embarrassing moment. I was in a new town, and had been embraced in a new friendship–possibly romantic!–which was all the more exciting because there was no one else vying for my attention.

He had loaned me his guitar, a great trust, and told me where he lived so I could return it after a while.

It seemed appropriate to me to bring it back after a few weeks. Still warm from his attention, and not wanted the friendship to fade away, I followed the directions he had given me to his apartment, where his lived with his family. I brought the guitar back, hoping for a little visit.

I came to the door and was greeted with a wall of hostility. His sister left me in the hall, and went to get her brother. He took his time. When he finally came out he asked why I had come.

To return the guitar.

He looked down at the guitar and took it from me at last. Then he said I should not have come.

I left as soon as I could. I was mortified. I felt like a bug that narrowly escaped death, only because I would have soiled the shoes it would take to squish me.

I was reeling. I wanted to find some comfort somewhere. But I had no one I could go to. I wanted to have some friend–someone!–tell me, “hey, don’t listen to them. You’re okay.”

But I was new to the town, and I had no way of communicating with any of my old friends. It was all me. And I felt like a pimple on the butt of the world.

That part of me that stays on the side tried to think of something. Some way to comfort myself. I began to realize that the thing that was hurting was my pride.

What is Pride? “… it’s not a hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man…”

And yet it can be hurt. Was it important? or was this pain like the hiccups, something uncomfortable that was not serious and would pass?

Pride…Pride is the original sin. Lucifer was proud and he screwed everything up.

In that case, pride SHOULD be hurt. Pride should be ignored, torn down, attacked. It was a good thing to have my pride damaged. I should be humble, not proud.

And yet…There is another meaning of pride. Pride in opposition to shame. I will not be ashamed. If I am ashamed, it means I have done something wrong. Something shameful.

But if I am proud, I am proud of myself, I am living right. I should strive to be proud of my work. I should preserve my pride.

How can this be? Two things that mean the opposite.

Here is how I have determined the difference:

For the false, destructive pride, the source comes from external things. If I am proud of what I did not create, what I did not work for, then this is false. If I take pride in my appearance, my status or how people regard me, then that’s wrong.

But if the source of my pride comes from my own work, and the affirmation comes from myself, then it is good pride. Yes, I should work hard and take pride in my work. I should be careful to be honest and have integrity. I can be proud of that integrity, but my pride can be an internal affirmation. I don’t need to broadcast my good deeds, it is enough to know them myself.

A shameful pride would be trumpeted and draw from other peoples’ opinion.

But a humble pride would be quiet and only need affirmation from oneself.

That is basically the litmus test. And it places my pride, my self-worth, inside my sphere of control. I don’t need anyone else’s opinions to know.

I can hold my own with pride.