I swear I am becoming less prideful, I promise - Curt Leland
Lemme tell yah sumthin’. It’s pretty hard to allow yourself to feel the love of your heavenly Father and the community around you when you’re too puffed up about your own ability to love.
So hey. My name is Curt Leland and I am prideful, yet not arrogant. And I promise I am less prideful than I used to be. Workin' on it. Pretty exciting stuff. Anyway, I wanna back up real quick. Throughout my life, there is one word that would summarize how I view the people around me and that is curiosity. I am fascinated by what makes people emotional, passionate, nervous, or confident. Attending such a massive university was the perfect playground for my brain. So many people to befriend. So many organizations to join. So many worldviews to understand. So many stories around me. Whoop. In many of my spheres of influence, I began to become known as the person that was approachable, kind, and anyone could talk to. I began to have deeper relationships and be introduced to the hard part of people’s lives. I felt invigorated by this and began to attempt to figure out how to best support these friends.
This trend continued throughout college and without knowing it, I would idolize my ability to make others feel heard and loved. My prayer life shifted to seeking successful navigation of conversations with those around me. My journaling habits shifted to writing down my goals for my friends and how I could help them achieve. I would get rushes of excitement when I could swoop in on someone’s hard day, and know exactly what to say to make them feel comfortable. All of these, in theory, are great things. But if you don’t notice how painfully absent the Lord is in these relationships then boy howdy do I have news for you.
I didn’t wanna do the Fellowship at first. But conviction is pretty clear, so August 2021 you know what gate in Van, Texas I drove through. I like to compare how life sometimes feels in the Fellowship to a vacuum. Not like your model 4 Shark Stratos, but like a vacuum in space. You eat, play, work, and lodge with the same people. In opposition – in college, there was an abundance of stimuli. I could have a hard day at school and not even fully tell you why. I could help fix an issue at work, and never see the result. I would navigate relationships for the present and not the long term. A lot of quick interactions and decisions, which isn’t living in the vacuum at all. This wonderful Fellowship vacuum, though, created space for sweet, sweet, and painful sanctification. 1 Peter compares the concept of sanctification to the purification of gold in a flame. This captures the true beauty of the idea, which often gets diluted in our daily routine. By doing life in the vacuum, if I chose to give pride a chance and make a slight comment, I would see how it affected those around me. If I woke up feeling extra tired and chose comparison, I would see how that comparison affected my view of myself and ultimately the Lord throughout the entire day. I could see the results of my sin.
Beginning of the Fellowship I tried to love those around me how I was used to being pursued. I would ask questions, but then it seemed like people didn’t like being asked questions. This confused me. If these people loved the Lord, why wouldn’t they want to be loved and in return love me this way? I must not be asking the right questions. I must press in. I must solve the puzzle... I grew frustrated. Insert the vacuum I mentioned earlier. I began to see it. I wanted to be loved by those around me more than my heavenly Father. I wanted from people what I should have sought in Him. I began to explore this. To understand His love, I need to understand how to love His scriptures. I need to meditate on it to understand His design for his church, and to love His church. To know what love from Him looks like in a true biblical community, I need to start living in a way that was not focused on myself – but focused on Him. To serve my immediate community and roommates not to be served, but be like Him who came to serve. Slowly over time, I realized how my viewpoint of love had hardly anything to do with the one who died in my place and experienced the most definitive evil in this world (called death) and overcame it. I would much rather live in a way that serves Him – and not in a way where someone hopefully asked me questions and then I get a boost from it. My pride hates it though. But yah know I guess that’s a pretty swell thing.