Skill #7: Be Proud

Pride. It is considered one of the seven deadly sins, along with avarice, sloth, lust, gluttony, laziness, and envy. So why would LiM2 suggest being proud as a skill for your messy, marvelous life? (And don’t yell too loudly yet. Having humility will be a LiM2 skill, too, one of these weeks.)

My husband and I were taught to take pride in family and country by our parents. Three of the four of our parents are immigrants, and when they came to America as children and young adults they came because their parents wanted to invest in a new country. They wanted a chance to make a better life for the family. And so they were willing to struggle, to find new connections, to learn a new language, and make a home here, in a new country. And they were proud. Proud that they had made it. Proud that they fought for their new country. Proud that they raised children in America. Proud that their children did better than they did, educationally and socio-economically. There was a lot of pride.

I don’t think it was the kind of pride that is one of the seven deadly sins. It wasn’t inordinate amounts of inaccurate self-esteem. It was accurate self-esteem. They HAD made it. They HAD struggled. They HAD literally laid down their lives (and all of their money) to make it here in America. They had taken great risks and they had made it. That was the truth. They were, shall I say, justifiably proud.

And what did their pride instill in me? Respect for my elders and in myself. I expect myself to live and act a certain way. Respect for my things. I try to be a good steward and take care of what has been given to me. Respect for my community. I want to be involved and invested, contributing what feels right. Respect for others. I make an effort to treat others as I would want to be treated.

Charleston, South Carolina, the Holy City, has shown the world how to respond to hate.

Living in South Carolina during the past two weeks has reminded me of what it feels like to take pride in a place you live. I have felt justifiably proud of my state and its people the past few weeks. Charleston, South Carolina, the Holy City, has shown the world how to respond to hate. The leaders of that city, both church and community leaders, spoke strongly and clearly to their constituents: we will not return violence with violence. The rest of the state joined them. People left their comfort zones and joined together to support the victims of the massacre, to support the community of Charleston, and to make a statement. I did that, and I am proud of all of us for joining together. We actually DID something, and we are justifiably proud of that.

If we are to have healthy pride in something, we should be able to point to congruent action. Otherwise the pride is just a sentimental feeling or a downright falsehood. And pride is never a destination. It is part of the journey. We must always follow our feeling of pride with actions that continue to give congruence to that very feeling. What can I DO, what can YOU DO, when you have pride in something? You can begin by noticing and naming that of which you are proud. I am proud of my state because they did not return violence for violence. I must continue to practice not returning violence for violence. I am proud of myself for speaking my truth in a situation that made me feel very vulnerable. I must continue to practice that. I am proud of my church this week, as well, for taking a stand that is congruent with what we believe is the gospel. We will continue to have much work ahead of us. Perhaps we feel proud of a child when we see them modeling what we are trying to teach them, or perhaps even more so when they teach us something important, when they remind us of something we have overlooked or forgotten. The job of parenting is never done.

So practice having accurate, justifiable pride. Continue to follow that sense of pride with congruent action. Feel deep respect for your capacity and potential, individually and as part of the larger community.

Be proud. Because life is messy, life is marvelous.

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