There are certain memories that stand out clear over the years no matter how much time passes. Most of those moments are times when God spoke to me so clearly I couldn't possibly miss it.
But the first time I really remember Him speaking to me, it wasn't so clear.
Maybe because I wasn't used to His voice.
Maybe because the truth can be painful.
Maybe becausei have this raging skeptical side to me that I'm constantly battling.
This was the last night of Youth Group Summer Camp. My first camp. Age fifteen.
The speaker passed out slips of paper and asked us to take 10 minutes to quietly worship and pray. We were supposed to ask God if there was anything in our lives, any sin, that we needed to surrender to Him.
I started praying, skeptical that He would speak to me. And one word came to mind...pride.
My inner skeptic argued that I was just talking to myself, that God wasn't really speaking, but that one word kept pouring through my mind.
And I'm not sure how I realized it, but sometime in the middle of arguing with myself about the likelihood of that being God's voice versus my own it hit me... That must be God. Because I would never have described myself as prideful.
In my fifteen years of going to church, being from a "good family", working hard to impress people, even attempting to read my Bible, and always trying to keep people happy, it had never occurred to me that I might struggle with pride. And I know it must be God speaking.
Over the next few weeks, the weight of that one little word God had spoken over my life came crashing down on me. I had never seen so clearly before the depth and breadth of my pride...I had never before truly seen my pride at all.
And then I knew for sure it had been God speaking to me that night. With that one word whispered into my mind, my eyes had been opened to my life in a whole new way. What I had previously seen as righteous, I now realized stank of self-righteousness, and I didn't know what to do.
So I tried internally berating myself, thinking that if I could convince myself I wasn't good or talented or pretty or smart, then I would be humble.
Years later I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis...
"Conceal...the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness, but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character."
And..."He (God) would rather the man thought himself a great architect or a great poet and then forgot about it, than that he should spend much time and pains trying to think himself a bad one."
I realized, although now knew my pride, I did not yet know humility. Becuase, as C.S. Lewis said, humility is not thinking poorly of yourself; rather, it is not thinking about yourself at all.
That was the problem. God revealed my pride, but instead of focusing on God, I began focusing on myself even more. I began trying to fix my pride or at least hide it, turning all my focus inward.
I'll never be humble as long as I'm focused on myself. Nothing good ever comes from me having my eyes on me. The only good that can come is from taking my eyes off myself and putting them onto Jesus. That is where humility lies.