Letters to Jesus (Unhelpful Mindsets and Attitudes)-9
Again, St. John Climacus has said that vainglory is circuitous. Even when we think we are not vain, that is vainglory and vainglory leads to pride and pride is the assertion of self and denial of You.
It sounds like a spiritual “Catch-22.” Without going to a dictionary I’m not sure of the difference between vainglory and pride. Perhaps there is none. My understanding of vainglory is the wasteful and useless time we spend in glorifying and promoting our false-self – the “me.”
Now, without You we are indeed nothing but with You we are indeed something to glory in and be proud of. This dignity, which comes from You not from our selves, is not vain, for vanity dwells more in fantasy than reality. The minute our egos take over and attribute the good we may see in ourselves to ourselves, that is the pride of vainglory.
Yet I think what Climacus is talking about here is a complacent brand of pride and vanity that sets in when we become satisfied that we have shed the “self” and placed You properly at the center of our lives. Truly, no man ever arrives so completely at this point. At whatever ascending step he may light, it was by Your grace and not his/her effort.
So, while it is good to feel good about Your actions in our lives, it is not so good to take a vainglorious attitude toward being so loved by You. It’s a difficult distinction for we know that Your love truly does make us “special.”
Into this whole mix must also be stirred the difference between an inward, silent sense of well-being in You, and an exterior, boastful brashness about it. There is something that definitely chafes, irritates, and grates on me at the very idea of not feeling fantastic about Your love for me. I don’t care what Climacus says, You are the most positive source of love and caring in my life – and I shouldn’t feel good about this? I think Climacus would not oppose me on this, but rather would point out that the source is not me – even when I feel good about not being vain about it, the source is You. True humility demands honesty and therefore recognizes and feels good about goodness, but realizes that all goodness come from the One Good.