I remember, years ago, when Alexis was young, we were late for school one morning. We also had to stop by the store on the way, because it was my turn to bring the morning refreshments.
Now, I’m a freak about school zones. DO. NOT. SPEED. To me, even one mile over is too much in a school zone. When people tail me in a school zone, I start praying for them to realize a child’s life is worth more than their impatience.
However, that morning, running late, I found myself halfway through the 20 mph zone with flashing lights behind me and realized with horror that I was speeding. I pulled into the school parking lot and waited. Alexis was upset because I was in trouble, even though I assured her it was okay. I explained that I deserved it because I was speeding and that is against the law. So, I deserve whatever punishment I got.
I rolled down my window, sick to my stomach, as the police officer asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. Alexis leaned forward as far as she could from the backseat and said, “Mr. Police Officer, my mommy is the sweetest person ever and she never, ever speeds. Please don’t let her be in trouble.” He smiled, and I said to him, “It’s okay. I deserve it.”
Now, of course I didn’t WANT a ticket. I was strongly tempted to plead my case, blame every circumstance that morning that caused me to be late. However, I did speed and, more importantly I always wanted my kids to see me take responsibility for my actions. Actions have consequences. However, I also know God can give me grace when I own my actions.
And He did.
Not to say I never have faced consequences, because like all of us, I have. I have found myself praying to God that I didn’t have to face negative consequences at all.
Soon after, I started my first public relations firm. I was awoken at two in the morning by a client with a huge emergency. The company wanted me to basically jump ahead of any media and allude that blame for an issue was likely on a “single employee,” which they said would obviously pan out in the end. They said things like “keeping the damages at a minimum” and “happens all the time.” They said, “In the end the employee will be exonerated.” However, I wouldn’t. Our agreement prohibited them using any other firm while under our agreement, so needless to add (but I will) they were angry. They tried to intimidate me with a lawsuit. I reminded them that also our agreement held a moral clause which stated I wouldn’t lie, no matter the irrelevance, to the public on the company’s behalf. They threatened to put me through a lengthy trial. Even if they had to pay me back in the end, it would ruin my life. I’d lose everything.
I don’t get scared often, but no lie, I was scared. I woke my husband, explained the situation and he replied, “Do you ever let anyone bully you? No. So, your name and your belief in the truth are worth more than anything we own. War on.” Thankfully, my husband doesn’t back down from a bully either.
When I went back to the company with that very statement, (I never let anyone bully me. My name and belief in the truth are worth more than anything we own. War on) they backed down, and I put out a press release at seven that morning explaining the situation, adding that no one person was to blame, and an investigation was pending. My point is, I was scared of the consequences of my actions. Even though I was right, there still could’ve been very negative consequences. Could they have sued me and caused me to have been so bogged down with legal bills and lost everything? No, just the material things, but all of that could be rebuilt again. We’ve started from scratch before. My name would survive, because God would’ve ensured it. It may have been a mess, and it may have taken time, but honesty would prevail.
Again, actions produce consequences. We all face situations where people get away with the worst behavior. They steal, cheat, lie, abuse and take advantage of others, and don’t ever seem to suffer any punishments. Some of those people walk around free-spirited, with no conscience, and it gets frustrating to see them continue to get away with all of it. Only I’ve learned I have to let it go. Other people’s actions are their own, good or bad, bottom line is their inner junk is between them and God. Just like my inner junk is, too.
When I meet with someone in business, whether a potential client or interviewing models, I have one top requirement: no arrogance. If someone is arrogant, I know they still have their big life lesson ahead of them. I’ve seen some learn it at twenty years old and some at fifty. It’s a hard road and I don’t want to go down it with them. When they later have the arrogance to call, which many of them do, and ask why I didn’t hire them or want them as a client, I tell them. Some of them say similar things like that they were just confident, and that I was reading them wrong. I usually respond with something like, “I am confident and I know it can border on arrogance, so I understand what you are saying, but I’ve also been arrogant. Only I didn’t recognize it until I had been at my lowest to see it.”
Pride is a hard thing to explain to people because it can be positive or negative. Definitions of pride and proud from Oxford range from “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements” to “consciousness of one’s own dignity” And “having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance” Self-confidence is when you believe in yourself or your abilities Arrogance is when you believe you or your abilities are better than others. Negative pride can look like self-confidence or arrogance when someone is deflecting their misgivings onto others out of the exact opposite of arrogance: insecurities. When we deflect due to insecurities, we learn pride in a very negative and destructive way. This typically involves a host of excuses that include “you” or “they.”
That type of pride is a lie. Sad thing is the lie is meant to save your lack of confidence and while you may have convinced the other person that you are “confident,” inside, you feel worse about yourself because of it. Hence, you perpetuate being prideful.
My dad used to say when you are coming up with excuses in life for your problems, if you take out the ”You” and replace it with “I” you’ll find all the answers.
Instead of asking “How could you not hire me?” ask: “How am I desirable to employ?”
Instead of asking “How could you blame me?” ask: “How do I deserve blame?”
Instead of asking “How can you not help me?” ask: “How can I help myself?”
Instead of “How can you not support me?” ask: “How can I support myself?”
Instead of “How can you be against me?” ask: “How am I against myself?”
The struggle is truly how we grow and transition from victim to victor that makes whatever my circumstances or consequences turn triumphant. When I am tempted to reason out my own struggles or excuses and I have to ask the tough questions, Imust remember it’s about me doing the right thing, not anyone else. It’s about me changing, not me changing anyone else. And mostly, it’s about remembering the one big lesson we all learn: we are no better than anyone else.
I’ll try to own my actions instead of excusing them. That’s truly the difference between “You” and “I.”