I gave it up for Lent. The yelling at the obvious stupid people who don't know how to drive. The getting incredibly frustrated. The interrupting conversations with people (mostly my mom!) to FREAK OUT at the person who cut me off.
You know what I have learned? This is an incredibly deep-seated habit. It is my guttural reaction to get angry. Yell. Freak out. #%@^*!.
I said a lot of quick Hail Marys at first. "God BLESS you" in a very frustrating tone. But, as the weeks have gone on... the prayers have almost stopped and the frustration just remains.
I am not proud of that person. I don't like that person.
I started saying the Rosary in the morning. It has helped tremendously. Imagine that.
Last week at Mass we heard the Prodigal Son parable that we are all pretty familiar with. If you aren't, check it out, but here is the quick and dirty: a dad and his 2 sons live on a farm-- the younger one takes his earnings and inheritance and blows through ALL the money on feasting and prostitutes. The older one is loyal and stays, of course. The younger brother realizes that he can have a better life as a servant of his father, so he returns. The dad rejoices and throws him the biggest party!! Slaughtered the best calf, gave him a fancy robe! And the older son is... jealous and angry! He did all the right things and his dad NEVER threw a party for him. "My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found." ~ Luke 15:31-32
So, the priest talked about this parable in a way that I hadn't really heard before. Together, the sons represented the 7 Capital/Deadly Sins: Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Anger and Pride.
The younger son seems pretty obvious- greed, gluttony, lust and sloth.
The older- envy, anger and pride.
The priest focused on Pride. Of all of the sins- pride is the most dangerous. It can infect all areas of ones life, when you think that you are good enough or the best at certain things (work, faith, etc)-- you stop growing. You stop seeing others as equals in life. It prevents you from truly loving. And then...you start judging.
Gosh. How easy it is to find myself in the older son. Hence, the reason I bring up my road rage tendencies- it pretty much stems from pride. I know better about driving, and NO ONE IS DRIVING CORRECTLY!
Which is completely false. I am not a perfect driver. No one is, let's be honest. ;) Those other drivers deserve love... and I am not loving them. Even if it's from the inside of my car and I never speak to them.
Then, I started to evaluate my life a little deeper. Look, I in no way think that I am perfect- in life, in my faith, at work, with my friends, with my family. Not at all. Buuuuut, pride still creeps in. That's the thing with pride. That's why it's so dangerous. You can be humble it a lot of ways, and be prideful in many others. For me, it creeps in mostly with my faith (and when I'm driving, I guess). The way I choose to live my life, and the way that God calls us to live through the Catholic Church. It's so easy to fall in the trap of "these are things that we are supposed to do- I do them... you don't. Or I do them better... you don't."
It's such an ugly trap to get caught up in, ya know? I fall prey to this sin particularly with fellow Catholics- mostly the ones who say they are Catholic, but so obviously don't live any of her teachings. You know the ones.
But also with my friends at certain times. And even with my family. I am the only practicing Catholic in my family. A lot of the time I feel as if I am on the defensive about my beloved faith. Lots of misconceptions fly around. Lots of misunderstanding. Lots of beautiful moments to bring the Truth. But, also perfect moments to be prideful.
Which has caused some moments of tension. Some heated, passionate discussions. This is how it is! I say. But it doesn't have to be that way for everyone, they say. And off I go to Mass, no eating meat on Fridays during Lent, ticking off all the "things" that a "good Catholic" should do.
Bringing the Truth and showing love is hard sometimes. Especially when people don't see where you are coming from. Or I don't see where they are coming from. I don't want people to see me check off the "Catholic To-Do List" and that be that.
It's so much more.
I want people to know Love. I want them to know a love so deep, so wide, so beautiful, so captivating. A love that only God through Jesus can bring. It's a love that few understand. It's a love that we are all deserving of. All of us.
It is through this love that I am able to live life. It is through this love that I am able to see my fullest potential. It is through this love that I am able to love others. Imperfect, yes, but love just the same.
Pride takes away that love. It stomps down my ability to love and replaces it with judgment. Jealousy. Frustrations. Misunderstanding. Attitude. And sometimes, downright ugliness.
I pray, Lord God, that you will tear the walls of pride down. I pray that I can love my family, friends, coworkers, strangers, more fully and deeply. Remind me, Lord, that each person on this Earth is an encounter with You. Each moment is a moment to share in your love. Your grace. And your mercy. Especially in the car!!! Amen.
How do you deal with pride?? I can't be the only one!