Tag Archives: pride

Veil of Tears 102: Irritated

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Then he added, “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.” Esther 5:13 NIV

If something rankles us, like the grit in an oyster, it may be a clue to something we need to look at more closely in our soul work, covering it in layers of prayer until it become a pearl of wisdom that we find we have taken on board.   Something that irks is something that needs to be paid attention to. In Haman’s case, Mordecai felt like a fly in the ointment because he was a symbol of everything the wicked man wanted to get rid of, everything that stood in his way to becoming all powerful, a righteous, godly man who had earned respect and was intrinsically honourable. Mordecai was going about his life untroubled by sin or selfish schemes. Haman was working every sly and unholy plan he could think of.

What we hate is a big indicator of what we revile in ourselves. In this case, as in so many sadly throughout history, anti-Semitism is a blaming mechanism that says, these people are not special, because that would make me not-special. These people are not worthy of God’s love and attention, because I must surely be worthy of it. it is a back-to-front hatred of self, masquerading as nauseating pride.

Just as the narcissist is intent on making themselves the centre of the universe to cover up the pain of knowing deep down that they are not, so this Jew-hater wants to rid the world of God’s people in order to rid himself of God, who alone knows his wicked, hateful heart. When we believe we have acted in an unforgivable way, we sometimes seek the harm of the One who might forgive us, rather than the reconciliation that might be offered. This is the fruit of guilt and it soon escalates into greater and greater crimes against love.

But if we take the things that we are transferring onto others, if we offer the misplaced and difficult hurts, grievances, pains that seem to make no sense, the bruised ego especially, into prayer, and lay it honestly before God, things will change.

Yes, it is hard to look at oneself truly naked in the realm of heart and soul, but it can be done gradually and with some self-compassion. Once the road of shadow work is embarked upon, these irritations, whether they are seemingly small niggles or larger, more obvious rages, can teach us a great deal and be the catalysts to quite astonishing transformations. The more open we can be with our maker, the deeper he can pour in the balm of his grace. And if that sounds intimate, it is because prayer is just that. God can be closer to us than any lover, and he loves to help us and set us right, to have us turn our tear-stained faces back to him.


©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

50: Idolising

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King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,a and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:1 NIV

The culture of celebrity is a huge deal these days, but at least none of the walking egos that deign to grace our tv screens and magazines have gone to quite the lengths of King Nebuchadnezzar to persuade people to worship him. I’m sure there are some celebrity “personalities” who would like to have a 90-foot statue of themselves built out of pure gold, but fortunately none of them have gone that far just yet. Give it time and one of them will.

The scripture itself doesn’t specify that the statue is of the King himself, only that he sets it up and requires its worship, so it may in actual fact have been a statue of one of the Babylonian gods. But for our purposes let’s imagine it was of Nebuchadnezzar. Was this pure ego, or was it a canny way to discover those amongst his people who would not fall down and worship at his say so? Was it a way of controlling the populace? State religions have always had that dubious honour.

What might that do to a person’s spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health, to be literally idolized in this fashion? I truly dread to think. And yet, we all do this to some extent. I mock the famous people I think are egotistical above, knowing full well I am no better than they. What right do I have to set myself up as judge over their behaviour? All measuring and judging comes from a place of smugness, or self-righteousness, or of a desperation to imagine ourselves better than someone else so that we can proclaim ourselves worthy or entitled. This is how the ego defends itself. And if the world tells you that you are right, by making you a king or an heiress or a billionaire, if the world watches your every move and records your image constantly, then this may well feed your grasping ego to the point where it nears bursting with pride, and where it feels completely natural and right to feel superior.

Religion can have similar effects. We only have to look at the Pharisees to see that. And there is an ugly kind of salvation smugness that believes itself now so incapable of sinning that it happily looks down its long nose at everyone else’s moral behaviour, and usually through a microscope. Let us never forget then, not even long enough to write a scathing opening paragraph, that we are each a child of God, beloved beyond ideas of merit, and that each life and path is so different that it is impossible and ill-advised to fall into any comparison. As soon as we do that, we start building that golden statue in the coldness of our hearts.


©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay of a golden statue of Buddha in Urumqi, China, not disparaging Buddhism, just wanted a picture that shows the scale of a large gold statue and surprisingly there aren’t that many about. J

21: Woe is Me!

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Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.” Micah 7:1 ESV

Are you waiting for something, searching for something, unable to find it? Have you been praying for relief and none comes, that elusive hope dulled and despair taking its place? What a perfect description of such despair this verse in Micah is! All the good grapes are gone and the poor have been in to take the leavings, so that as you arrive there is not one left. As you come along hunting for that one good thing, there is nothing. Everyone else, it seems, has had what you wanted and there is none left for you.

This is how we feel when we are poor, and those around us are buying new things and having holidays. This is how we feel when everyone else has a job and we have been unemployed for a long time; unwanted and marked out for misery. This is how we feel when all our college friends seem to have their next steps and careers all worked out and we are drifting in a fog of unknowing. This is how we feel when a friend is having her fourth child and none came along for us, and we feel this despite our joy for them. It is not jealousy, but it is like we are the opposite of special. Like we and all our hopes have been cast off into the dust, and not one of the things we were hoping for have shown up.

Unkind people will call such feelings a “pity party”, and tell us to “pull our socks up” and that we have “first world problems”, or that there are “plenty of people worse off” than we are. Oh, how I loathe those phrases! Sometimes, especially with good reason or when we are low or suffering from depression, it is good and healthy and okay to say, “Woe is me!” The Psalms are absolutely full of such honesty. God values it and hears us and he does not tell us to shut up and count our blessings or pull ourselves together. He is all compassion and understanding. At such times I am sure he longs to gather us to himself “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” (Matthew 23:37 partial, NIV).

Here’s a little thing I have learned over some difficult decades: suffering is personal. It is not relative. It cannot be compared. My pain is my pain and yours is yours. There is no measuring stick. You feel what you feel. And today the love of my life is incredibly down and he is hurting, and nothing I can do can make it better, and our finances just got dealt another unkind blow, and so I say, “Woe is me!” and it’s okay. Such outbursts need to be short-lived of course, else they can fester and lead to self-pity, with manifestations across the spectrum of pride, from entitlement to self-loathing.   But self-compassion, cried out and genuine, can be related to as good emotional sense and spiritual honesty, leading us back to our own helplessness and to the feet of the source of all true help. And God hears, and he hurts with us, and his company is good to have at such a time.


©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com