Strangely enough, my affair with this verse predates my love of Scripture. My precious and wise Grandmother used to attach this verse to her 'pretty is as pretty does' admonition. At any rate, I know the verse well enough that I've attached some pretty incomplete visuals to it. You see, the way I see a verse in my mind determines how I apply the verse to my everyday life. And the way I saw this verse prevented me from applying this nugget of truth to my life at all.
Pride goes before the fall...
For decades, when I would hear or read this verse, I would imagine some strikingly beautiful woman turning her nose up at a plainer variety of Creation just moments before the heel of her stiletto shatters- sending her hurling to the ground in the most graceless way imaginable. Or perhaps the self-proclaimed-shoo-in for a beauty pageant shows her truest of colors in an ugly display of her lack of congeniality when a slightly less beautiful woman takes her crown. In my mind, I can almost see a tiny teenager taunt her full-figured peer just before she took the quick route down the steps... on her behind. See? In my mind, the proud were always prettier than me and the falls were always made for TV...and that visual protected me from ever having to look this verse in the proverbial mirror.
And this was my view of that famous verse. Until now. Until this year, this month, this week,THIS VALENTINE'S DAY. Before I explain how radically different this verse is to me now, let me share with you that it has been a rough year for my friends. There is nothing light and casual in my voice when I tell you that people I love are hurting. Hearts have been busted. Families have been broken. Kids are shaking their heads in disbelief at the trials they are about to face. And everyone is surprised. It's the evening before Valentine's Day, 2011 and this year five friends have shared with me the devastating news that a court of law will soon decide an end to what God ordained on their wedding day.
Five covenants. Over.
Five marriages. Done.
Five families. Broken.
Five sets of plans, dreams and futures. Busted.
And, while I have cried and hurt for every one of them, do you know what my gut whispered in response to all these casualties? Do you really want to know what that not-quite-as-pretty-as-she-is-selfish-and-mean girl inside me actually said to my heart while I was praying for my precious friends whose lives have been ransacked by their enemy? Brace yourself. It's pretty foul...
"That will never happen to me."
And suddenly, like a hammer to the thumb or a bullet to a beer can, the verse tumbled and bounced and slammed against the wall of my heart-requiring me to challenge my own vocabulary.
Pride. We know the word well, but what does it actually mean? For me, I had attached a very convenient definition to the word so that it would be absolutely innocuous in my own life. I allowed myself to pretend that pride only applied to the beautiful, the wealthy and the wise. As long as I pretended that I could never be in the position to actually be prideful, I never had to worry about the fall that followed. But lately, I've decided that there's another, more practical definition to that pesky word- and this definition doesn't let me or you off the hook.
Pride: pretending that you can do something good all by yourself-even if that 'something good' is a truly noble cause (like a charity, a favor, a ministry, or a marriage.)
And unlike my childhood visual of the 'fall' that follows 'pride,' God doesn't wait around, looking for the prideful so that he can stick His foot out and snicker as the pretty girl finds humility on the floor. No, this verse isn't a threat from our Father at all, rather, it's simply an honest representation of cause and effect. The fall naturally follows pride because while this verse is absolutely true, so are the others. The Bible also says that I can't do a single good thing without Him. But in my pride, I try anyway. I actually attempt to beg God to help me in the areas of my life that I find difficult while I offer him a false platitude of praise over a marriage I rarely beg Him to do anything for because- if I can be completely transparent here- my marriage is really, really good without all the begging and trusting that goes along with putting it in His hands. In other words, 'I can do this part of life without You, God.'
And so, after spending a decent amount of time on the floor, reveling in my revelation, I'm going to tell you like it is...like it really is...
I can't do a single, solitary good thing without Him. I mean that. NOTHING. I can't raise my kids (even on the good days) without God's wisdom, provision and love. I can't enjoy a healthy marriage (even when it's all laughs, hugs and smiles, paid bills and amazing sex ) without God's wisdom, provision and love. I can't help my friends (even when they're telling me how helpful I am) without God's wisdom, provision and love. I can't use my pen to spread His Glory (even when the words flow like fine wine) without God's wisdom, provision and love. NOTHING. There is NOTHING I can do without His help and only PRIDE could make me say, pretend, believe or act otherwise. And because truth begets truth, my failures will stand as concrete proof that not only can I do NOTHING without Him, but that PRIDE always goes before the fall.
I'm begging my friends to hold this verse up to a bright light. Is it possible that you, too have put a little too much faith in your own abilities? Are you setting yourself up for a fall by pretending that you're not desperate for God's wisdom, provision and love? I know it goes against human nature to live every aspect of your life as though you can't do it on your own, but isn't that exactly what Scripture tells us to do? Who says we can't be desperate before we fail? I invite you to tell yourself and God the truth...
Apart from Him, we'll always fall. Believing otherwise is nothing more than a prideful attempt to trust our glory instead of His. Pride goes before the fall. Apart from Him, we'll always fall. Believing otherwise is nothing more than a prideful attempt to trust our glory instead of His. Pride goes before the fall. Apart from Him, we'll always fall. Believing otherwise is nothing more than a prideful attempt to trust our glory instead of His...