I've been feeling convicted of late... I've been struggling with pride issues. Over the course of the past few weeks, Chris and I have been "showered" with three baby showers (two surprises, one I knew about in advance). Added to those three are the two that are coming up in the next two weekends (Knipe Family and Meckbach Family). What is the problem, you ask? You must have gotten tons of gifts!
I am the problem. I have always had issues with showers. When I got married, I didn't even have a bridal shower. I didn't want one and refused to allow friends or family to throw them for me. The idea of sitting in a chair while the masses watched me open presents one by one, seemed exhausting, appeared to be no fun, and made me feel uncomfortable.
My real issue here is that I don't like the idea of asking or needing people to buy me things. It makes me feel indebted, like I can't obtain stuff on my own. Even as I write that, I realize I sound snotty and unappreciative. I really don't intend to come across that way, but I know sometimes I do.
I believe I get it honestly: My father has always hated his birthdays or Christmases because of the gift thing. He lavishes others with financial gifts frequently, yet does not like to open the smallest of gifts given to him. I remember, as a kid, being so excited to give him something, only to see him quickly open it, say thanks, and change the subject. I recall other instances where family members or friends attempted to pay for his dinner at a restaurant and my dad subsequently throwing a fit about it. Conversely, my dad is guilty of paying for entire tables and walking out without them knowing. He likes to give. He is generous. He just hates being on the receiving end. He is a wonderful, generous man. But somewhere inside, there is an issue of pride.
I acknowledge I have a pride issue. I want others to feel that I do not need any help and that I can do things on my own, or buy things on my own... I don't want to feel indebted to anyone.
I have a healthy amount of pride in what Chris and I have worked hard for--- our marriage, our home, our jobs, our degrees. Pride is not always bad-- it is good to feel proud of hard work and accomplishment. However, when I'm too proud to graciously accept help or gifts from people who want to give to me, that is a problem.
Yesterday I had a conversation with my cousin, who is also currently pregnant. Whether she realized it or not, she gave me some perspective. She and her husband live in Florida, away from family and friends. Her husband's extended family consists of two people: his mother and his brother. My cousin knows she will have one shower given by our family and that will be it. She said, "When I heard you were having so many showers, I was jealous at first. You and Chris are so lucky to have so many people who want to support you and give you stuff to prepare for the baby. I threw myself a pity party after hearing about your showers when I knew I would only be having one. I know that's messed up, but I was jealous that you guys would be given so much and have so much support and I would be in Florida, away from all of that."
My pride is so large that it often obstructs my view of the sweet things others want to do for me. God is not calling me to LOVE bridal and baby showers, but he is calling me, commanding me to be humble and to be gracious, to have a soft heart for the people who want to support us, to let them support us.
This is not an easy lesson for me to learn. I am working on it. I just have to remember all of the times I have gotten excited to give a gift to my dad, yet have felt apprehensive because I knew he didn't like receiving gifts. I don't want to steal that excitement from someone who wants to give me something. It's not fair to them and honestly, it's not how God calls me to react.
Family shower #1 is this weekend. I'll report on my "humility-training" next week.