A few weeks ago I read an article in our local newspaper by Erika Butler, who had recently completed her first marathon. Being a runner myself, having had the opportunity to run with her one Saturday morning, and knowing another one of her running partners well, I was intrigued.
It was a beautiful piece about her experience training for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), but more so to thank all the people that helped her along the way. Like anything else of interest I read it and then put it in the recycling bin.
However, it was recalled in my mind on several occasions since it was originally handed to me by my husband. I have been taught that when things continue to reappear in the forefront of my mind it is undoubtedly for a reason. “Someone” is trying to get my attention, and there is a lesson.
In general, I consider myself to be somewhat modest in my life, not publicly professing my successes and open to constructive criticism. In the past, this had come more from a place of deep insecurity, however of late it is less about that and more about humility. I don’t feel the need to brag about my so-called achievements or tell the world that I reached my goals.
It’s been an interesting evolution really, and landed me in a place today where I am learning how to be proud of myself and to honor the work I have done. I think that’s why at first when I read this article I immediately asked myself, ‘why do some people feel the need to air their achievements, especially in running, to the world’.
Then the spiritual awakening happened and it was revealed to me that people can be both proud and humble. In fact, some believe those words mean the very same thing. I thought pride meant being conceited or outward arrogance-people who need a lot of approval from other influences. Humility appeared as keeping your chin down, never over celebrating success-being a doormat.
However, both words “have to do with acknowledging and respecting who you are and what you can do, without any outside confirmation or approval” (Huna.org). The one difference as I see it is pride is the feeling we have on the inside and humility is how other people see us.
The lesson for me is it is ok to celebrate my achievements, successes, and efforts so long as I am doing so without the need for recognition from outside influences (pride and humility). Now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the occasional recognition from others about my successes, of course I do, that’s only human. It feels good to get compliments and to have our efforts validated.
Today I can work hard, set goals and either achieve them or not, be proud of myself and the effort I put in despite what others believe about me and without any external approval. Wow, that is an amazing.
So being proud of myself is not being cocky, it’s healthy, it’s the ability to give myself my own internal strokes, an invisible pat on the back. And even if I do publically share my achievements with others it is not false pride unless I require external approval in order to cover up my own negative internal emotions.
This is what I teach my children on almost a daily basis. When they have a success I always say to them, “wow that’s great, you should be really proud of yourself”. I want them to learn this now, they should be, they work hard. This is freeing.
Erika’s article was very honest about her experience, the good and the bad moments, which I have realized is what makes her actually quite humble and also proud. Her main focus was writing to thank all of those who had helped her along the way.She was grateful. She should be proud of herself becauserunning a marathon is an amazing experience and accomplishment.
And who am I to look down on anyone who is comfortable being proud of themselves and also recognize that they aren’t alone in their efforts. It really isn’t all about ourselves.
Although I don’t think I will be posting my marathon times on my Facebook page, this year through a series of events and lessons, I am a changed woman. I am proud of myself, not for the end results but more for the hard work.
I was humbled twice, when the time came when there was no mental defense against the last four miles, it didn’t matter how hard I had worked at that point, being human becomes a serious reality.
It is amazing to create something of my own from the ground up but challenging to be patient. It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice to be successful in both athletics and business.
With the end of another year upon us I feel like a proud and humble human. I value hard work and achievements, big, small, whatever they are as long as in general, forward progress is being made and when it’s not, the lesson is learned. I am amazed at my development this year, the ability to grow from insecurity, the beautiful flower of humble pride.
Thank you God for opening my heart with the beautiful story of one runner sharing with the world her blood, sweat and tears, and her gratitude. She is right, whatever we are working towards, a marathon, starting a business, raising healthy, God-loving children, we are never in it alone, there are many people helping along the way.
I am so thankful for that and when my self-centeredness rears its ugly head it isn’t hard to be humbled when I look around at all of my blessings, most especially the people.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you” James 4:10