The Pride of Hopelessness in Interpersonal Relationships

Today's guest blogger is Whitney Standlea. You can find more of Whitney's writings here.

I recently spent about 36 hours moping around in a state of hopelessness and despair. Interpersonal conflict between my husband and I had reached a point of great tension. There was no anger, yelling, or fighting. But a difficult situation between the two of us had left me feeling like there was no way our circumstance could change. It was a dead-end battle and there was no hope for my attitude changing. I really believed that there could be no desirable resolution to the conflict. That was that.

Now this whole time I knew something was wrong with my heart. There were several tell-tale signs: hopelessness, telling God it was impossible for anything to change, running to other things besides the Bible for answers, and an unwillingness to get advice because I thought no one could help. After opening up a bit to a friend, she began to show me there were a few holes in the blanket I had thrown over my head. Maybe some light could shine in on my situation.

After crying in despair for my unchangeable heart just the evening before and offering up prayers of sad resignation, her promptings led me to think more thoroughly about my situation. I soon found myself disclosing thoughts to my husband that led to resolving much of the conflict. It’s amazing what a little heart-to-heart can do! Bouncing around with joy that the light of the Gospel afforded hope for my silly unreasonableness, I have been enjoying the revitalization that the resolution brought to our relationship.

Now that the storm is past I have been analyzing my heart and trying to prevent such an event from happening again soon. I could pin the tail on the donkey of my unbelief rather quickly. I knew I wasn’t trusting in the power of God to work in my situation. But that wasn’t all of it. I was surprised to see the direction the same friend mentioned above took it. She told me it was pride! It wasn’t just an unbelief in God, it was an unfounded belief in myself that quickly brought me to the state I was in.

Why would anyone suggest that a miserable, hopeless person was acting in pride? I was so weak. I wanted to have my heart changed, but felt there was no way I could make it better. I wanted help from others, but no one had been through the same things as me. I wanted to help make my husband understand, but nothing I had done worked. That does not look like a state of pride to me. But I listened, and I learned. It didn’t take long to see how my unbelief was loaded with pride. By looking at my preceding comments, it becomes quite clear…

1. I wanted to have my heart changed, but felt there was no way I could make it better. I was missing it. Pride says I change my heart. When I can’t seem to change it, that’s when hopelessness sets in. But isn’t it God that changes the heart of man?

2. I wanted help…but no one had been through the same things. There is nothing new under the sun. To allow myself to despair because I thought no one had been through anything similar was the equivalent of saying “I and my circumstances are so unique that no one has ever struggled enough to relate to me. Not even Christ.”

3. I wanted to make my husband understand, but nothing I had done worked. I had tried to communicate. I had tried to help him see how I was feeling. If I could just explain things correctly, then he would understand and change. Boy, was I missing it again! Its not about me changing anyone’s heart. Its about allowing God to change it.

Its easy to walk in the pride of relying on myself. I like to do things my way. But now I’ve learned that when I’m met with a situation that I can’t fix, pride quickly leads to despair and hopelessness. Hopelessness in any situation is really pride clothed in mourning. But if we can strip the garments off and see the pride for what it is, we can have true humility. And humility brings hope. Hope because we believe that when wecan’t, God certainly can. He can in any situation, any conflict, any heart, any circumstance.