Letter from Lois
If you feel you must brag, then brag about worshiping me, the Lord.
What I like best is showing kindness, justice, and mercy to everyone on earth.
~ Jeremiah 9:24 (CEV)
Children are raised very early with the messages of being proud – “you did it!” – pictures on the refrigerator, rewards for good grades, ribbons for being first in a race, pats on the back. How is it, then, that we end up with psychologists declaring an epidemic of “low self-esteem” in our nation? How is it that the boast of the child mastering something – “look at me!” – turns to inward doubt, to fear?
We’re told that the Dalai Lama couldn’t grasp this concept of “low self-esteem” and it had to be translated for him several times. His “religion of kindness” begins first with inner kindness, inner peace; his sense of connection with the divine energy of love leading to the inter-connection with others. Being “whole” and simultaneously part of a larger whole. Directing love outward from that inward place of love.
It’s the opposite of the kind of “pride” that gets lumped into the “seven deadly sins” as the kind of boasting that insists on “better than” and prevents us from connecting with others. Rather, it’s the pride and confidence of the one who knows who s/he is; the certainty, deep down, that you are okay as you are, who you are.
For Christians, we also talk about that being a knowing of whose you are – beloved of God. Embrace yourself/so that you can embrace others/so that the hurting world will know the embrace of God. The great spiritual writer Henri Nouwen says that we get seduced by messages that counter God’s when we live outside of knowing that beloved-ness. When we can really accept our beloved-ness, he says, we also realize that “our being the beloved does not have to diminish anyone else.”
It’s about the difference between an inflated ego and an intact one. We speak about this in our Baptism liturgy here at Broadway: “Baptism says we must die to a life of fear for our lives, our status, our position. When we die to that life, we can be resurrected to living life through and beyond every obstacle.” We celebrate that claiming ourselves as God’s beloved brings us to life!
It’s this kind of pride that was behind the historic first Pride Parade and the start of the GLBTQ Pride movement: a pride that says nobody can take my life away from me. My life: in its fullness, authentic, all that I am.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus restores people to community, bringing them “back to life” physically, emotionally, socially. Often the Greek word for this restoration is “sozo,” a complicated word that can mean “save” or “healed” or “set free” – my teacher taught me the fullness of its meaning as “whole” (Jesus says, “your faith has made you whole”).
Such wholeness is my prayer for our Pride celebration at Broadway – that we may each find pride in our beloved-ness, and that we may share that with the neighborhood as the rainbows begin to wave.
On the journey with you,
Rev. Lois McCullen Parr