Pride the Spiritual Cancer

This week we re-entered the world, very weak and shell shocked but so happy. Our endurance for everything has been challenged and it will take some time for us to return to normal.

Jake went back to work on Tuesday and managed well through his classes. By Thursday he was back to coaching soccer and trying a few things outside of work hours. Someone on the sidelines took this photo at the game and I couldn’t help but turn it into a meme.

The boys returned to horse therapy on Monday and they were thrilled to have human interaction with others. They worked very hard at therapy and both fell asleep on the way home. Malachi was the most excited about the barn- he hasn’t been to horse therapy since before his emergency surgery in July.

I have had a hard time with my energy level. At the beginning of the week I tried to jump back into things but my body reminded me that it needs some time to recuperate. I was hit with some pretty big waves of fatigue and some tightness with my breathing. I also broke out in another rash that we are thinking is poison ivy so I went back to the doctor this weekend to get another steroid to help with inflammation in my lungs and maybe relieve some of my allergic reaction to the poison.

But overall we are healthy and happy! And the boys got some much needed haircuts.

Random side-note: Levi has started a rock collection.

Malachi has an appointment with the epileptologist this week and I am so eager to talk to him. His seizures have been so aggressive lately and clearly this new medication regiment he is on is not working. In addition, the med combination he is on includes a vitamin for his liver that causes stomach upset. Today starts his 9th week straight of diarrhea. I am really hoping his bloodwork will be good enough for us to consider eliminating and replacing some medications.

He has struggled the most this week with energy. I grew worried about him mid-week as his color was off. I could tell he just felt a little unwell and his sleeping has been very disjointed, like his body can’t relax. He seemed to improve as the week went on but I will feel a lot more comfortable after some bloodwork on Tuesday.

Malachi’s g-tube popped sometime this morning, which normally would send us into a flurry but after the weeks we have had we didn’t even finch and got a new one in easily. It is so interesting how perspectives can change. “Worst case scenarios” tend to shift a couple levels down when hard things hit.

Levi is still a bundle of energy and a flurry of words and questions. He has been re-telling the story of the night “Daddy passed out in the kitchen” to people and hearing his take on it all makes me laugh. The details he retained from the night are impressive for a three year old.

I didn’t have the clarity of mind to share much of the funny moments with you from the last few weeks but we had several. They were such precious jewels to me as they made me smile through my tears.

On the first really bad evening I was trying to keep both kids hydrated with Pedialyte. It was 3:45am and I was up with two feverish boys. I poured a glass of blue Pedialtye to send into Malachi’s gtube and Levi asked for a glass. I poured some for him in a 2 ounce medicine tube and carried it over to him on the couch. As I was getting ready to feed Malachi Levi said ”Momma, momma! We having a party!” and then clinked his little medicine tube of Pedialyte against Malachi’s cup before taking a big drink. His joy over our “party” on the couch made me smile. He was so incredibly sick in that moment but found a silver lining.

A few nights later Levi started to get very loopy from sickness and extra dramatic. He would burst out crying and when I asked him what was wrong he would say ”My Chi Chi is sick” and start sobbing. Even in his discomfort he was concerned about his brother. So sweet.

Another night he was on the verge of sleep and gasped loud enough for me to jump. He sat bolt upright and said “MOMMA!! There is a HAIR on my leg!!!” And showed me a single hair (in the hundreds) that he had on his leg. I acknowledged his leg hair which seemed to satisfy him, so he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

I think we were all a little loopy by that point.

On Wednesday I was able to meet with my youth group for the first time in several weeks, and oh how refreshing it was to reconnect with them. I shared with them the spiritual struggles we have gone through in each branch of our recent challenges, and sometimes being honest and transparent about our moments of weakness can provide such guidance for others. When I prepare lessons for them I try to treat the opportunities as ”training moments”, hoping I can help strengthen their faith so that when they face challenges in the future they will have already learned how to combat them.

I also try to be extremely transparent about the different ways the devil attacks, and specifically on the topic of pride. I read a chapter from C.S. Lewis this week from the book ”Mere Christianity” and it struck my heart in a much needed way and I wanted to share it with you all. The chapter is several pages long so I chose a few paragraphs to share with you instead of its entirety, but I encourage you to google one of the paragraphs and read the whole chapter online as it is a powerful one.

”I now come to that part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world laothes when he sees it in someone else’ and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine they are guilty themselves.”

”The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit; and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual immortality, I warned you tha the center of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkness, and all that, are merely fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

”Many a man has to overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity- that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste, brave and self controlled provided he is setting you up in the Dictatorship of Pride. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, contentment or even common sense.”

-Chapter 8, The Great Sin

The further removed I get from this recent wave of trials the more I am able to look with clear eyes and recognize the many ways that my pride made that battle so much more difficult. My flares of anger and frustration, every single one of my pity parties, each of my ”woe is me” nights of crying was a tiny spark that my pride turned into a bonfire.

*My pride convinced me we didn’t ”deserve” to be going through so many hard things, all compounded on top of each other. But my faith in God reminds me that these hard things are still part of God’s plan that He hasn’t revealed to me yet. Pride sometimes makes us foolishly think we should be able to share the thoughts of God.

But His Word reminds us ”’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts that your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9

Faith is being content, even when we don’t get a glimpse at His plan.

*My pride convinced me that I could handle everything being thrown at us, when in reality I was not capable of meeting everyone’s needs on my own. I needed supernatural strength and clarity that only the Lord could provide. I needed a community to surround us and help lift up our arms each time they fell in desperation.

We are so quick to turn away help from others, seeing it as a sign of weakness. But those are actually the moments for us to practice our humility and allow ourselves to admit that we can’t do it alone. This is still very much a struggle for me. In my past I have had moments of people helping me with significant needs, then using those moments as weapons to shame me later. The hurt from these incidents has created such a dark hole within me that I feel the need to savagely protect from being able to grow any larger. It is easier for me to refuse help, knowing that I am preventing future hurt. As twisted as it sounds, that’s something that trauma can do to you.

Isaiah 40:29-31 reminds us ”He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We were never intended to do the hard things alone. We were never created to do the hard things of life alone. We WILL grow tired and weary, we WILL stumble and fall. It is in those moments that we are called to hope in the Lord and watch His strength be portioned to us. I believe firmly that God will not only freely give us His strength but He will also use other brothers and sisters to lift us up with their strength.

In Exodus 17 there is a story about Moses and the Israelites facing a battle against the Amalekites. The Bible tells us that as long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning. Verses 12-13 tell us: ”When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.”

God could have instantly given a portion of His strength to Moses, but there is a reason He didn’t. Sometimes God chooses to allow a testimony to be written as we watch our brothers and sisters in Christ support our weak and shaking arms. Sometimes our moments of physical pain and shaking muscles are never really about us, but are an instrumental part of a spiritual lesson for someone else. We need to be content in being a teaching tool that God uses in other’s testimonies. What an honoring way to be used by the Lord.

*My pride convinced me that I needed to maintain a reserve for myself and my healing. But In Philippians 2:5-8 we are reminded: ”Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The world screams ”You can’t pour from an empty cup”, but the truth is that it honors God so much when we empty ourselves for others as it is an act that is completely void of pride and can only breed humility within us.

Psalm 16:5 ”Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup: you make my lot secure.”

When we recognize that the portion within our cup is not something we have created, produced, or secured but rather something that has been gifted to us from the Lord it seems so foolish to think we are to selfishly hang on to it.

Oh the faith it requires to empty yourself for others. But the strengthening of your faith that can come from watching God fill that cup again to the brim…simply because He loves us and feels honored by our continual obedience.

Every single day I struggle with this. Lately it seems that when my head hits the pillow there isn’t a drop left in that cup. And the fear of another empty cup the next day can taint my vision when my eyes open the next morning. But when I recognize that the empty cup keeps me closer to God it helps me see that Him giving me just what I need for each day is a blessing. His mercies are still new every morning. This is a verse that God has been laying heavily on my heart this month and I find myself reciting it every morning: Lamentations 3:22-23 ”The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I could ramble on and on and on about the lies my pride allowed me to consider over these last 9 weeks of difficulties. The list is enormous and embarrassing. But as C.S. Lewis says at the end of that same chapter from above: ”If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

I want to encourage you to find the hidden pride in your life that has started to become a spiritual cancer. Look at the many ways it has eaten the possibility for contentment. Follow the paths of the sin in your life and trace their roots to pride. I believe that naming sins in my life is one of the most important things I can do, as they serve as an acknowledgment to God and the devil that I am aware and I desire to put them to death.

The true humility that we are called to as Christians isn’t something that we can create. It comes naturally as a byproduct of living a life like Christ. I know I am beating it into your brains but please please please read Philippians 2:1-18 this week. It is literally titled ”Be Like Christ” and is such a great place to start.

Goodness that ended up being a long entry. God sure did have a lot to say. I don’t know who each part of this entry was for but I believe with all of my being that each word on here was ordained by Him for some of you. When I started the blog my intent was to talk about one of the miracles from Matthew. Clearly God had another direction to go.

Isaiah 55:11 ”So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”

What an amazing God we serve!

Much love,

Leah

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