Laura Roland ponders how to let go of pride and open the door to God.
I came across a picture of a door half-open the other day while searching for a photo for an Instagram post. I’ve been obsessed with it since then. As I look at it, it has become a perfect snapshot of my interior life lately. I imagine on one side of this threshold someone is going out; on the other is someone coming in. They both have an agenda, something that requires going through that door. I picture them grabbing the handle at the same time, each from their own side, feeling the resistance. Agendas are placed on hold while they each figure out how to get the other to let go. Someone has to. Otherwise, no one ever moves forward.
This season of my life has been one of lessons – hard ones I didn’t know I needed to learn, simple ones I thought I’d learned but forgotten; immediate ones that saved me from myself. Each lesson brought a moment where God wanted me to let go, and I didn’t because that felt like giving in. I dug my heels in so far that I was stuck. This season of lessons then, it became a stalemate.
In search of some encouragement, I read a few – and then a lot – of Fr. Jacques Phillipe’s books. His straightforward way of speaking truth in love appealed to my shut down and weary heart. Never one to mince words he convicts his readers that to not let go of [fill in the blank], to hold onto it tightly in stubbornness and pride, as if we know better, is really a lack of faith and trust in God.
I am many things but even on my lowest of days, I am not a doubter when it comes to who God is and what He does for, in and through me. Which is why Fr. Phillipe’s words stung. I’d like to say I had a brilliant moment of clarity, immediately detaching from everything God had asked me to release. I didn’t. But I am learning.
As I slowly emerge from this season, I realize that everything keeping me stuck stemmed from my inability to detach: from the praise, the likes, the comments, the sought after opinions, the proverbial seat at the table of influence [such as it was], the idea that I was necessary. How did I let this happen? I am so mad at myself.
Pride. It is the root of all our sins.
Back to that door. I am one side; God is on the other, quietly asking me to let go of the handle. But how do I do that? Release one finger at a time.
- Change your prayers. My prayer for the longest time had been, “Lord, show me what I’m good at. What should I do?” And while that worked, it left me to my own devices to interpret the idea of “good” and “do”. My prayer now, as this season is slowly morphing into another, a less arid and more fruitful one, is “Lord, what is your will for me today?” It has slowed my roll in worrying about tomorrow, quieting the loop that tells me I’m never enough.
- Ask for the grace of humility. While easier said than done, praying The Litany of Humility is a beautiful and challenging way to begin to surrender pride. The prayer asks God to deliver us from certain behaviors and thoughts that focus on ourselves as we pray for the desire for other behaviors and thoughts that focus on others. It’s a powerful prayer; one that brings healing and change.
- Be patient with yourself. Letting go of the idea that letting go is not giving in is hard. For some of us, because we don’t like to lose, or be thought of as quitters, it goes against our very nature. In reality, choosing to let go shows a deep understanding that what you’re holding onto isn’t as healthy, productive, or fruitful as you think it is. Rearranging your thinking about this takes time, but it will come. God will make it abundantly clear that you have chosen well.
- Have a sense of humor. If I’m being honest here, this has been the hardest thing for me to do in this season. To be able to laugh at yourself takes a whole lot of self-confidence and a good dose of humility. Both of which are in short supply in my world most days. But our God loves to bring out our childlike playfulness and silliness so that we can remember joy and happiness. Sometimes this is done at our own expense, but it is never cruel or mean spirited. Learn the difference and have a good giggle.
- Let others be first. It’s a small step that reaps huge dividends in the whole “let go” conversation. When I let others be first – in line at the store, at the merge area on the beltway, enjoying first cup of coffee in the morning – pride fades, love returns. Love for them. Love for me.
If you want to move forward, it begins with living from a place of love. First for ourselves and then others. This means we let go of pride which makes room for God to love us in the place it once occupied. It’s like that door. I imagine that once I let go of, detaching from the handle, it will be opened for me from the other side as if to say, “Now you can move forward.”
About the Author
Laura K. Roland is a cradle Catholic. She and her husband of 31+ years have 3 children and have recently added a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law to their ever-growing family. A former Catholic educator, she co-founded the women’s ministry Encounter Grace in 2018 and is a speaker, writer, mentor, and host of the new podcast, Short Story Longer.