Friday, July 13, 2012

Removing the Shield of Pride: What the Process of Grief Is Teaching Me

I am a pretty guarded person.  I am especially guarded in what I share regarding my personal life. Part of that is a professional hazard.  I stand up and speak to 600 people nearly every Sunday.  I might as well paint a target across my chest.  People feel free to tell me what they think at will.   To be perfectly honest I speak to a group of extremely gracious people. Their comments are often very kind and supportive. But nevertheless I know I am a walking target most of the time.

Being guarded is wise. When such guardedness is taken to the extreme, it swells up into foolish pride.  Pride impedes meaningful self disclosure.  Opportunities arise to allow another person to help carry our burdens, and we look at them as if they just arrived from the planet Mars. We continue to bear our personal loads in solitude while trusted friends walk beside us more than willing to share the burden.

Three of my special friends have passed away since April of this year. Two were childhood buddies, and one was a longtime professor, mentor, and friend. I have felt the pain of grief. It sure was tempting to carry that load all by myself. The voice of pride after all is forceful and convincing.

But I have been fortunate. I have been blessed with loyal and trustworthy family and friends alike. They have blessed me and served me. They have listened and shown interest. They have plowed into my life, and peeled back the layers of pride. Allowing others to serve me has been a strange experience, but it has been overwhelmingly good.

Here is what the grief process has taught me this year:

  • It is imperative to allow others to serve us.  Placing a shield of pride around our hearts is foolish and unhelpful.
  • I have been reminded that serving others when they are grieving is one of the most important tasks I can undertake.  I have been given ample opportunity to do just that, but I think in recent years I have forgotten just how essential it really is. Being on the receiving end of other’s love has been a valid reminder.

The process of grief is teaching me a lot this year.  But mainly it is teaching me to remove the shield of pride.    I pray for the continued presence of trustworthy family and friends. They make all of the difference. They are truly shield removers. 

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