Pride, Happiness, and Joy
Kenzi: Daddy, I got an “A” in MATH! That NEVER happens!
Daddy: I am SO proud of you, Kenzi!
When my daughter came home with that “A” in class, my general reaction to her was that I was proud of her. But what does that word “pride” mean? Many times we say one word but mean another when we speak. Did I really mean to say that I was proud of her? As I deconstructed that phrase, my mind really went to the fact that this phrase, well-intentioned, was potentially from Satan.
Saying that I was proud of her, meant that her abilities make me, her daddy, look better in society. This is going to fly in the face of the pop psychology, but saying I am proud of her is wrong to say, and selfish.
Let’s look a little at pride. To start with, the online dictionary states that pride is defined as, “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.”
Now, what does the Bible say about pride? Leviticus 26:19 says, “I will break down your stubborn pride.” Proverbs 29:23 proclaims, “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
And how about this one? 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
Reading especially that last one, how much love am I showing my own loved ones if my words speak only of my own selfish ambition. It is as if I am taking away the good news that she brought me and turning around to my own selfish purposes.
That makes me sick to think of that!!!
What I should have said to her is, “I am SO happy for you!” These words say to her that what she did makes me happy because she is praised. It is not about praising myself for something she did.
Christians live a life of sacrifice. But we not only sacrifice, but God loves to see us happy as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 is a great verse to prove this. “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.”
You see, happiness is a sense of contentment. We get this feeling when good things happen to us. Consequently, that feeling can disappear quickly as well. So if Kenzi shows me her paper and I am happy for her and then immediately goes over to her brother and punches him and knocks his tooth out, I will no longer be happy with her.
But am I peaceful that Kenzi still is my little girl? That she still loves me? Of course! And that is an example of joy.
Regardless of how I feel about my little girl, I feel joy that she will remain my little girl forever.
Joy is that inner peace that comes from remaining in the love of Christ. Those of us who trust and love Him with all our hearts desire to stay in Christ. And to stay in Christ we love Him and keep His commandments because we love Him. So even if our whole entire world is falling around us, we can still rest assured in the peace and joy that is Christ.
This joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (22-23)
So am I proud of my little girl? Not anymore. I am not going to steal her happiness just to satisfy my pride. Am I happy for her? Of course!
But what I hold in great regard is the peace and joy that I hold in knowing Christ Jesus! He is the one who made it all possible for me to be happy in my daughter’s actions. He is the one who created me, and her. He is the one whom I love with all my heart, mind, soul and body.
Thanks for putting words of explanation to my discomfort with the common expression “I’m proud of you.” Curious as to the root of this very common expression. Being happy for someone’s achievement is far more accurate. “Proud” simply doesn’t fit.
Thanks fro reading and replying. I appreciate you.