Another week and another C.S. Lewis quote to ponder. This one is from one of my favorite Lewis classics Mere Christianity. I confess that it took me three tries to make it all the way through this thought-provoking book, but it was worth the effort.
If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. . . . Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.—from Mere Christianity
I like to think I’m pretty humble. Then I come upon the logic of C.S. Lewis and my own pride becomes all too apparent. The bolded lines in this quote were a clear revelation to me.
I belong to a writers group and we meet periodically on Zoom. One member in particular always annoys me. We each share about what’s been going on in our writing life. She always has a long list of publishers who have contacted her about writing a book or magazine editors who called to ask if she would write an article.
The rest of us—me included—are submitting our work left and right and getting either rejections or no response at all. We have the occasional win to share, but this writer has publishers seemingly knocking down her door begging her to write for them.
See? I’m annoyed just thinking about it. My pride is wounded. I think it’s time for prayer.
Oh Lord, help me to set aside my pride; to see my writing wins as gifts from You; to rejoice with others who rejoice over their own successes. Help me let go of my annoyance. Amen.