It’s a funny thing, pride is…comes out of nowhere and chokes you, leaving you paralyzed. For me, the paralysis took form as anger on Christmas Eve day.
Being a grad student who pretty much lives alone most days of the year, there is an extreme form of independence that quickly turns into selfishness and indignation when put back into the sphere of family in close quarters. The frustrating habits of siblings that you have not had to acknowledge for months on end comes back and hits you upside the head. And you find that your desensitization wore off a long time ago.
So there I was, washing the dishes as my oldest brother continued to watch ESPN (the TV had idiotically been on all day, something that peeves me) as he was looking for the Cowboys game that turned out to be nonexistent, which was no surprise as they’d just had a game on Sunday (common sense is not always my forte, but c’mon). Well, he stated something along the lines of “Well, I’m done, it’s not on…” and then retreated into his bedroom, leaving the TV on.
Naturally, I thought, “Alright, here’s my chance…let’s pump some estrogen into this screen”…and had settled on some funny countdown show. I just wanted something to humor me as I finished the last of my chore. Then he came back into the room like he was fixing to do something and so I asserted, “Don’t change the channel please, I’m watching something now.”
He then went on to murmur something like “Forget that” and flippantly changed the channel. Well, then came my thunder. I was thinking… “How inconsiderate can you be?! You’ve had control of that remote all morning, you leave, and then completely disregard someone else in the room. What universe am I in?”
A human one.
And I was about to find out just how human and fleshly I was, although I’ve been aware of that fact for awhile now.
So I threw my dishtowel into the sink and went over to take care of his problem with disrespect. A bunch of words came out of my mouth which he expertly disregarded as I continued to get purple in the face. I felt as though I had no power, that was part of the issue, and short of wrestling the remote out of his hands (I came close)…all I could do now was either (a) brush this scenario off and move on aka WWJD or (b) sulk, and I was not okay with either scenario.
To make matters worse, before he and my parents left to do some holiday shopping, he had the “audacity” to try and leave without turning his beloved TV off. So I said, “Oh, you were watching that, am I right? So maybe you could turn it off.” Yet again, complete disregard, and also my mama getting in my face because I was unnecessarily stirring things up.
And of course, she was right…but it was like I couldn’t stop. Even her reprimand wasn’t enough. They left, and my temper began to boil over. There I was pacing around the house yelling “Oh no, no, no, NOBODY messes with me like that, It’s not gonna be like that, you don’t play with me, you don’t EFF with me!!!” Then came the wonderful blackmail text messages that I sent him afterwards with statements such as: “Just because you’re the firstborn and therefore can do no wrong, doesn’t mean that I won’t let them in on what you do. I don’t mind digging up dirt.”
Really, Neema, REALLY?!
This conniving, divisive spirit came out of nowhere. It was like some poison coursing through me with no antidote.
It scared me. It was a “What have I become?!” moment.
And the roaring anger, the wanting to belittle and “set you in your place” was so unlike where God had brought my heart. I didn’t feel like a lady, in fact, my reactions reminded me of those UFC girl fight previews they show, where the women are doing their smack talk and sound like no one in their life ever told them they were beautiful.
It didn’t settle until later that night, and even then…there was turmoil within me that was a combination of muted anger, guilt, sadness, and hurt. I was paying the price for my pride. It was a swift fall, let me tell you. And it sucked.
It still does. Who likes to see that side of themselves? Who enjoys cutting at people’s spirits with words shrouded in ill-will? I know I don’t.
So, my Christmas Eve day was the toughest pre-Christmas celebration I have ever endured. No fireworks here, just figurative bruises and black eyes. But, I am learning. Every day, I am learning. Every day I need to be reminded that there is more than enough grace for me. Because there is…that’s a reality. That’s a fact. And above all, there is freedom. I am not bound by my flesh, whether it takes form in anger and pride or something else entirely.
Throughout our lives we will partake in receiving holy training via exercising and strengthening our spiritual muscles. Not in and of ourselves, but through our Savior, Jesus Christ. And I want to battle unexpected pride and anger with some seriously juicy Fruits of the Spirit, let’s review them in closing, shall we?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”