Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, so that may be part of the reason I struggled with using the word — or acknowledging it — when people would say I must “be so proud” of my daughter serving in the military.
I felt excitement for her. I was happy for her. I was elated for her the day she shipped out to basic military training. But, I couldn’t refer to it as pride. This was her path. My focus was on her health, safety, and future.
That was, until on the drive home from waving goodbye and sending her on her way in a van headed for an airport (parents were not allowed to go) to catch a flight with the other fresh recruits about to be called “trainee” for 7.5 weeks.
Other than a social-media blackout while she was in basic training, my daughter’s only other request was for one of us to call the credit union and put a travel note on her account, so she could use her debit card in another state.
My husband and I hadn’t been on the road an hour before I called the credit union. I explained the situation to the customer service rep. She took care of all of it and said, “Thank you for raising someone who would do that.”
Boom. It hit me. I felt it. I “got” it. I understood it, this military-family pride thing. All of a sudden it included me. I had a new perspective. I could be proud of her and, yes, quite possibly proud of the job we’d done raising her.
It hadn’t felt pride until that first acknowledgement. Still, I struggled with the word. My Christian upbringing and the concept of military pride continued to butt heads the day she shipped. I had sworn I wasn’t going to join any Facebook military mom groups, but a fellow Wingmom approached me after the swearing-in ceremony, flashed her phone with a military support group open, and urged me to join.
I requested to join at bedtime that night. The first thing I noticed was all the genuine rapport and support. The next thing I noticed was the word pride; it was all over the place, often attached to spiritual references, and I was conflicted. I did not feel pride the way they expressed it. I felt elation for my daughter; I was thrilled for her. I did not feel pride in my part of raising her — after all, it was my duty to raise a self-sustaining human able to contribute to society.
I broached the subject with a retired U.S. Air Force general in the airport as we headed home after days of celebrating basic training graduation and bidding a “see you later” to our fresh airman. He was in civilian clothes, so I’d only been connecting with him as I normally do with complete strangers at airline gates. When he revealed his history, I asked for his input after confessing my struggle with pride.
“It’s really just semantics,” he said. (Can you guess how much he had my attention with that reference? He had no idea he was talking to someone who had chosen linguistics as her college thesis.)
He leaned over and asked, “When she took her first steps when she was little, weren’t you proud of her?” I nodded.
He added, “Hasn’t she had accomplishments growing up that made you proud of her?” He said this was like that, and it was OK to feel pride. He helped me be able to say yes when people asked, “Aren’t you proud of her?” I let it sink in, but still struggled.
I’ve had a page from www.biblestudytools.com open in my browser for weeks with “30 Top Bible Verses About Pride” across the top. It makes it clear that “God hates the sin of pride” but goes on to clarify: “Let us not see ourselves as ‘wide in our own eyes’ but let us become humble and willing to learn from God and others!”
So, there it is: I can be and am proud of her accomplishments. I am proud of her. I am not proud. There’s a difference.
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