The Soul-Static of Pride

David Powlison has written an excellent book on the work of counseling, Seeing With New Eyes, which I hope to review soon.  It really is a fine book, a joy to read, and a real help in understanding counseling and your own heart as well.  Just to get started I want to post a few passages of this book that stood out to me. From Psalm 131 (look it up), Powlison discusses the noise that disorients our souls; the static that keeps us clouded up, confused, and leaves us with noisy, chaotic souls.  As the Bible so often does, Psalm 131 up-ends our expectations for the causes of a noisy soul and points to pride and haughtiness as chief reasons for an unquiet heart and mind.

Powlison says this about pride:

"Our restless disorientation seems so natural, so desirable.  But it's noisy.  The noise tips us off to what's going on.  The static of anxiety, irritation, despondency, or ambition makes sense from the logic of a proud heart.  If you are not proud, then quitness and composure make sense."

"It also goes with the territory that we are opinionated, routinely judging, and belittling others: haughty eyes.  Pride is not just about ME.  It's also about you.  I must look down on you in some way.  Our absorption in judgmental opinions runs very deep.  Pride says, "I'm right in myself."  Haughty eyes say, "I'm right compared to you."  Have you noticed that even people who feel lousy about themselves are judgmental toward others?  When you feel inferior to others, you don't respect them or treat them with mercy.  Instead, you envy, hate, grumble, and criticize.  Even self-belittling tendencies-"low self-esteem," self-pity, self-hatred, timidity, fears of failure and rejection-fundamentally express pride failing, pride intimidated, and pride despairing.  Such pride, even when much battered, still finds someone else to look down on."

- Seeing With New Eyes, p. 79

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