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Topic: Pride (04/12/04)
TITLE: "Pride in the Tide"
By Patricia Sheets
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Most Christians have struggled with some sin that was difficult to conquer. Pride is the culprit in my life. I know it’s a problem for me and I wrestle with it daily, but sometimes it is so well disguised that I don’t recognize its presence until it drowns me, which it nearly did several years ago.
I have always loved the ocean and in my younger days I took great pride in my ability to get a dark, golden suntan. I spent countless summer days basking in the sun with my best friend, Diane. We would leave for the beach bright and early in the morning and stay until the sun rested on the sea. I was always slightly jealous of Diane. She had long gorgeous hair that swayed in the summer breeze whereas my hair resembled a mass of tangled spaghetti at the mere hint of humidity. I did, however, take solace in the fact that my skin would tan much darker than hers. I would sometimes prod her, “Come on, put your arm up against mine, let’s see who’s darker. Oh, look . . . it’s me!” Now, there’s an example of pride at it’s worst!
We grew up, graduated from high school and went our separate ways until a few years ago. It was a Monday in early May when I ran into Diane. She still had gorgeous hair and her skin was slightly bronze. A voice inside me said, “Go on, show her up, get one last tan before you’re too old!” I tried to squelch the notion but my prideful nature prevailed. I quickly calculated that, given the fact it was Monday, I could get in four days of tanning, meet Diane at the beach on Saturday and remain the proud, self-proclaimed tanning champ! I imagined myself walking up to Diane, putting my brown arm against hers and saying, “Dear me! This is the first time I’ve been in the sun all year, and look how dark I am!”
Tuesday morning arrived with a downpour, but I would not be deterred. I got in the car, made my way to a tanning salon, plopped down fifty bucks and jumped into a glowing coffin-like contraption for ten minutes. It was so easy! I would have a fantastic tan in just a few days! I noticed that I was getting a little redder with each session, but I always tan, so I didn’t worry. I was sure the red was temporary and would be a golden brown by Saturday. Wrong!
On Saturday morning I could barely get out of bed. My face resembled a red balloon with slits for eyes and huge, swollen lips. Even my toenails were sunburned, but I was still under the control of a fierce pride. Not to be defeated, I raced to the store and purchased a large bottle of lotion that was guaranteed to give you a beautiful tan in just two hours. I poured the concoction on my burning skin, then headed for the beach.
By the time I arrived, I was on fire. I waddled to the cool water for relief, but could barely move my legs and the soles of my feet were like match heads. Just as I reached the water’s edge, a huge wave pounded me into the ocean floor and raked my burned body through the piercing sand. I might have drowned, but a kind gentleman came to my rescue, pulled me from the surf, and set my blistered feet back on solid ground. There I stood, my skin some color that hasn’t yet been identified, sand up my nose, seaweed in my hair, and a sand crab caught in my bathing suit.
Totally defeated, I slowly made my way to the car past the smirking onlookers. Some smart mouth kid shouted, “Look, it’s the Monster from the deep Lagoon!” I was humiliated and embarrassed, but pride still reared its ugly head. Not willing to admit this ordeal was my fault, I whispered, “God”, how could you let this happen?” Like a beacon, God’s word answered. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Truer words were never spoken.
The next time pride shouts my name, I hope to recall the image of myself walking on the beach like a monster from the deep, seaweed and sand crabs hanging from my body, and remember the warning, “Running in the tide with pride causes a fall.” That statement may never be quoted by historians, but for me, it could be a life saver!
© Patricia Sheets
April 14, 2004