Daddy, what is pride?” Seven year old Daniel looked up at his Dad as they walked towards the front door of their house.
“Huuummm, what a question. Pride. Let me find words to answer, Danny.” Daniels father answered while unlocking the door and opening it. He ushered the boy inside and flipped the light on. They began to remove their shoes and coats in the foyer.
Daniels Dad, Walter began trying to find words to fit a description of pride in his mind. Trying to fit the words of a thirty eight year old into a seven year old response. Not succeeding well.
“Why don’t you go get ready for bed and I’ll be in to answer your question and tuck you in shortly, son. Looks like your Mama is already asleep, I will kiss her for you tonight okay?” Walter bent down in front of Daniel and took the end of his coat sleeve and helped him pull it off and reached up to hang it on the hook.
Daniel nodded and turned to go obey his daddy.
Walter walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water. Still struggling to know how to frame an answer to his sons question.
Clareese would know what to say. Why do I get such a loaded question and she’s in bed? Thought Walter as he drank. What is pride? He repeated. So large a scope and such a simple question. He began to try to think of ways to put Danny off with an answer. He felt the weight of giving the correct answer to such a tempest of a concept. It was important Danny know, but how much could he truly understand at such a young age? Walter began trying to remember what ‘pride looks like at the tender age of seven’. This made it easier. Yes, that’s what he would do, talk about seven year old pride. Yet the more he began to formulate his thoughts around the plan he made the less he felt it gave a complete answer. Frustrated he placed his glass in the sink and went to check on Sadey, his four year old daughter. She had been home sick today and required Clareese’s full attention. Strep throat was making rounds early this year, Sadey had a bad case of it. High fevers, aches and unable to eat much she cried and spent a good deal of the day in a warm bath which helped the aches but did little for the fever. Even ice cream didn’t sooth her throat. Clareese had told him and had went to bed with a sore throat herself before he and Daniel had left for Tuesday night service at Solid Rock Church where they attended for five years now.
He slipped quietly into Sadey’s bedroom and was overwhelmed by the smell of vicks coming from the humidifier by her bed. He bend down to touch her forehead and felt the radiance of her fever before he touched it. Walter sighed and said a quick prayer for his daughter and kissed her softly. He left and made his way towards his bedroom. Passing Danny’s room he peaked in to see him pulling on his pajama bottoms. He smiled, Danny was a good boy.
As he entered his bedroom he let his eyes adjust to the darkness so as not to wake Clareese as he undressed and donned his own pj’s. Clareese stirred slightly but didn’t awaken. He repeated the action of reaching for her forehead as he had Sadey. Again he felt the fever before he connected to her skin.
Oh, Lord, you know I don’t do nurse well and Clareese is needed to tend with a mother’s touch our Sadey right now. Please don’t let her get too sick to be able to care for her.
Immediately Walter felt a pang of guilt. His wife was sick and he was praying, not for her health and healing but for… huh. .. oh dear… his pride?
Forgive me Lord, help me to trust You’ll provide. I can call my mom if needed. I truly just want my family to be healthy again.
He pulled the covers up over Clareese’s shoulder and turned to go say goodnight to Danny.
I’m too tired to go into this pride thing tonight. I’ll tell him we’ll talk about it tomorrow. Mommy’s sick and we may need to be extra helpful. Yes, this is what he’d say. Then he would talk to Clareese and she would help him know what to say.
Daniel was sitting up in his bed playing with his transformer action figure, Bee, when he entered the room. Danny smiled at his dad and placed the toy on his nightstand and sat up straighter as if he was ready to hear his answer to his question. Guilt again took a stab at Walter’s heart.
How can I disappoint him so? Lord what in Heaven’s name do I say?
“So… pride huh? What makes you ask about that Danny?” Walter asked.
“Mrs. Cramer gave us a scripture to memorize tonight. And I already know it by heart!” Danny beamed. “Pride goeth before a fall. Proverbs 16:18” Danny said carefully with his eyes closed. Then his face scrunched up and he opened his eyes. “What is pride Daddy? How does it go before someone falls? Is it like tripping someone with your leg and then they fall?”
The innocence of his sons mind struck Walter with a wave of relief and gladness. Ahhhh, to think so simply and with physical example! He gave a chuckle and sat on the bed facing Danny.
“Well, son is kind of like that. But pride isn’t like a person with legs.” He said.
“Well I got confused because Mama is always telling me she’s proud of me. What if she falls because of that?” Danny’s genuine concern for his mama showed clearly in is eyes.
Oh Lord from out of the frying pan into the fire! The answer is both yes and no! How am I going to do this?!
Walter took a deep breath.
“Well Danny when mommy says she’s proud of you she’s really saying she’s happy because you make her happy. It’s a grown up way of saying ‘you’re great stuff!’ Sometimes we adults forget that lots of words can mean different things. So don’t worry about mommy falling, k?” It was an indirect answer to the point but it was all Walter had. He wanted first to relieve Danny’s fear of making his mom fall.
Danny sat waiting for his Dad to go on. Relief registering on his little face so far.
“The pride that the Word of God is talking about is like a reaction to stuff. Like when someone hurts your feelings and inside,” Walter placed his hand over Danny’s heart, “inside here and here”,Walter touched Danny’s head. “We react sometimes in different ways, do you understand what I mean?” Walter sent up a prayer that Danny was following along.
“Yes. It’s like having mean thoughts because someone said a mean thing first, right?” Danny looked at his Dad searching for affirmation.
“Yes! Yes exactly like that son. When we react like that inside we have a choice to act on the mean thoughts and say them or do them or not to. Jesus promised us we would always have a choice. It’s hard not to be mean when someone is mean to us, huh?” Walter began to feel as though this wasn’t going to be as hard as he thought.
“Yeah, Paul is mean and makes me want to be mean back. But I remember what mama says, ‘Do good to those who are mean to you. This is what Jesus helps you do.’ She has to help me think of good things though cause my mean thoughts talk loud Daddy. Does that mean I have the pride that makes me fall?” Tears began to form in Danny’s brown eyes and it broke Walter’s heart.
Walker reached for his son and pulled him into his lap. Folding him in his arms as if he could protect him from pride.
“We all have that pride dear boy. All of us. That is why we remember that scripture… like a warning that helps us choose what Jesus promised He would give. Cause when we are mean back to meanness usually it just makes more meanness, huh?” Walter said as he held Danny close. He looked down into Danny’s face to wait for him to respond.
Danny shook his head ‘yes’, but remained quiet.
“Well see the fall that the Bible is talking about is that meanness. Because now meanness is in control, it has made you do mean things and the other person do mean things and it just keeps meanness going back and forth. When we sin, we fall short of what God wants for us and for those we effect. So that’s the fall that happens when we choose our pride. Pride being our way of reacting and thinking and doing things. If we choose while we are first reacting inside our hearts and in our thinking, to be good to meanness then we don’t fall or cause others to fall into more meanness too. Does that make sense Danny?” Walter again sent up a prayer that God would help his little boy understand what he was saying.
“Yes, Daddy, I understand. It’s really hard though. Is it hard for you too?” Danny pulled back to look at Walter’s face.
“Yes, yes my boy is very hard for me too. In fact is not easy for anyone. We always have to work hard at that because pride never really goes away. Jesus gives us a way to not fall over it but until He comes back and we live with Him forever we will have to work really hard at keeping pride from making us fall. It’s like brushing your teeth. They may always seem fine and white but if we don’t brush everyday we’ll get cavities. So brushing your teeth is like keeping pride from decaying them. It’s easy to just say ‘one night won’t hurt if I skip’ but pride lies to us and if we let one night go then the next one will be easier.” Walter wasn’t sure the comparison was all that great but it’s what came to mind.
“Oh.” Said Danny. Shifting in his lap. “I guess that means I should go brush my teeth. I’m sorry I tried to skip it Dad.”
Danny got up to go into the restroom and began to brush his teeth. Walter sat there wondering if he should say more. And amazed how God had him covered in so many ways. Danny came back and crawled into bed and laid down to go to sleep.
“I will try really hard not to let pride rot my teeth or my heart for Jesus Dad. I’m glad He gave us a way not to fall. I’m tired. Goodnight Daddy. I love you.” Danny sat up to wrap his arms around Walter’s shoulders, hugging him tight. “Thank you for talking to me tonight Daddy, I know you get tired at night real bad. Mommy says so. I’m glad not too be confused about pride so much. It helps me know why I memorize the Bible. God’s words brush my heart like the tooth brush does my teeth, huh?” Danny said in Walter’s ear before he laid down on his pillow.
Walter smiled. What an amazing gift his boy was! “Yes, son. God’s word is just exactly like that! Thank you for reminding me! Good night. Sleep well. Love you son.” Walter kissed Danny on the forehead and walked out to go to bed.
God, thank you for teaching me about pride tonight. Through my little boy Danny.
Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah