Sinful pride reared its head in my life this Thanksgiving.
My wife and I went home for the holiday. It was the first time we traveled to Alabama in nearly a year. We were a newly-minted Orthodox, newly-married couple the last time we did so. Now we approach the first anniversary of both as expectant parents.
I often spend time thinking about how my conversion to Orthodoxy will be received among my old friends and my family. I think about how I’ll address it and how they’ll react when I cross myself before a meal. And I’m always a little let down when nobody mentions it and nobody reacts to my blessing, or my prayer rope, or using the word “priest” when I talk about things going on at my church.
Struggling with pride
I struggle with pride every day. Most of us do. People find ways to be proud of their possessions or lack of same. We take pride in our sports teams, as I did this past week. I wore my Crimson Tide clothing with pride as I interacted with rival fans. We take pride in our votes for or against a presidential candidate.
It’s also very common to take pride in the church you attend.
I am now more guilty of this than ever before. My Orthodoxy is a point of distinction when I go home for Thanksgiving. It shows how enlightened I am, and how smart and well-read. Being Orthodox puts me in a different light among those who know nothing of Christianity outside of their Sunday School rooms. It makes me unique. I stand out.
Lord have mercy on my sinful pride.
During our visit my family looked at our wedding pictures, with their icons and incense and priestly vestments, and complimented our lovely wedding without ever asking a question about the theology of it all.
Despite my pious preening, I was not a model Orthodox Christian on this trip. I missed attending liturgy to drive home from the trip. I failed to keep the fast. My Christianity was on my sleeve, but often not in my mind or my heart.
My family and friends back home were patient and kind. They never asked about Orthodoxy, despite my repeated attempts to engage them. Instead, they showed my wife and I love and hospitality, keeping their opinions to themselves in that time-honored Southern way.
They showed the love of Christ while I showed my sinful pride.
Seeing Christ in us
Abbot Tryphon of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington, recently wrote about sharing Christ through our deeds instead of our words:
Others can not know they need Christ if they do not see Him in us. They do not know that Christ fills hearts and transforms lives if they do not see transformation in us. If we are fearful, angry, judgmental, arrogant or aloof, the world will see nothing in our Christian faith worth seeking.
My wife and I will return to our daily routines this week. We’ll also return to attending liturgy at our home church. We will once again be among other Orthodox Christians and all that entails.
I must make an increased effort to show the love of Christ in my life. I must fight my own sinful pride. My love of Orthodoxy cannot be clouded by pride in this great gift that I did not earn.
I pray that I will learn from the example of my family and show love without pride. I pray that my actions will speak far louder than my words. And I pray forgiveness from my family for my arrogance and pride.
They should, after all, be used to it by now.
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