It seems that quite unlike wine or cheese or ironic music, I am not getting better with age. I've been noticing that things that never used to bother me now drive me nuts. I'm a lot more intolerant, I think, and more easily irritated. I'm less loyal, more rash and, immature? It doesn't seem to add up that an individual who was set on the road to sanctification early-on is still getting worse as one gets older. Except when I consider that pride unchecked always balloons out of control.
My mom says that this is the typical sin of the college student. The world revolves around them. For the first time in their lives, they are part of an independent world that is all there own, with responsibilities and obligations outside of the family structure. Freed, so to speak, from the rules and standards that held them back while under typical family governance, college students become incredibly self-absorbed in a setting where they have all the control and everything is actually mostly about them. (College: it does wonders for the ego.)
I say this all in the third person like I'm not talking about myself. :P
When I sit in meetings, wincing at immature assessments and poor conflict resolution, I wonder at how these "mature saints" could be so childish. I spot character flaws in others and reflect on the trouble that'll cause all their lives. I am lacking in compassion for others' mistakes. And I am welled up with defensiveness and justifications for my own. A well-timed conversation this weekend related to this very topic reminded me of the video below. (Lilly, you're my muse.)
This is what I see in myself more and more. (Ironically, when I first watched this video, perhaps over two years ago, I thought to myself how important it was that I guard my heart against defensiveness. Whoops.)
One thing I get really defensive about is my time. My availability is next to zero, with almost every minute of almost every day allocated to a specific purpose. If it's not class, it's work. If it's not homework, it's youth group. If it's not family time, it's church stuff. When am I going to train for the half-marathon? Not totally sure! I feel a sick sense of pride in how occupied I am, like being busy is only for awesome people. Therefore, when people make demands on my time, I can feel myself flush at the neck and my heart rate quicken. I feel uptight and resentful that they don't seem to understand that I am busy. Even as I feel shame at guarding my time so jealously, I also struggle to fight the feelings of irritation that I am being misunderstood -- I am irritated in my assumptions that people think I'm lazy (well, I am, ya know) and I exaggerate my commitments.
I'm so sick, guys. I'm a terrible person. I really need Jesus.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if I actually was the person that people thought I was.
I know this battle with pride is a long one, a tricky one. I know it requires vigilance, faithfulness, ruthlessness. I worry that my pride will engulf me, sinking me like an iron-clad cruise-liner, and even in this is the irony that my pride thinks it's too big for God's grace. Because if there is any escape from a thing as extensive and cancerous as my pride, it is in Him.