When I turned 16 and took my driver’s test, I passed the parallel parking part with perfection. In the years since, I’ve been able to maneuver this technique fairly flawlessly.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to practice this at our downtown apartment that only offers street parking.
About a month ago, I parallel parked beautifully and my husband and daughter both commented how great I did.
I beamed with pride.
And apparently, it all went to my head.
Since that day, I can no longer parallel park. It’s ridiculous. I mean, I try, and it’s just absolutely horrendous.
This might seem like a simple or humorous fall from grace, but it’s happened at other times in my life, in varying aspects and degrees of importance.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
When I was 13, I heard a speech by Ezra Taft Benson called “Beware of Pride.”
It didn’t mean a whole lot to me then. But recently, with the current climate of our country, I felt the need to study it to see if pride might be part of our problem.
He stated: “Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the…central feature of pride is enmity — enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen.”
He continued: “Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves.”
How true is that? It’s that whole mote and beam idea we read in Matthew 7.
Benson also said that selfishness and contention are aspects of pride. “A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his position.”
Others have also cautioned about pride.
CS Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” wrote: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man…It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.”
Alexander Pope, in “An Essay on Criticism,” called pride “the never-failing vice of fools.”
In Dante’s “Inferno,” pride is “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour.”
In clarifying the concept, Baylor Associate Professor of Theology Paul Sands said pride should not be confused with self-respect or self-esteem.
“Unlike pride, self-respect does not imply feelings of superiority…it has to do with rights and dignity, not merit” and “Proper self-esteem…is the fruit of a clear-eyed assessment of one’s own character and achievements.”
Sands also noted pride shouldn’t be confused with “feeling” proud. “Pride is an enduring character trait; feeling proud is a transitory emotion.”
Dr. John Amodeo, a licensed marriage and family therapist, teaches that relationships suffer when pride abounds.
“Pride is often driven by poor self-worth and shame. We look for others’ flaws as a way to conceal our own limitations. We criticize others as a defense against recognizing our own shortcomings.”
So what is the solution? How do we combat this enmity toward God and our fellowmen?
Benson said: “The antidote for pride is humility.”
St. Thomas Aquinas said humility “consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.”
And Mahatma Gandhi said: “True humility means strenuous and constant endeavour entirely directed to the service of humanity.”
“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box” (Italian proverb)
For me, being humble means …
we are teachable and realize we don’t know it all;
we admit when we are wrong or make a mistake and are sorrowful;
we are grateful, acknowledging the blessings we receive;
we notice others and are happy with their successes;
we listen to people and really hear what they are saying;
and above all, we love and serve others, helping to lift one another’s burdens.
I believe a little humility would go a long way in healing our country, our communities and our families.
And, it also doesn’t hurt when it comes to parallel parking.