By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist
Summer is upon us and church camp is part of the warm-months experience. I’ve had some requests to retell this story. There is something about church camp in the wilderness where impressions are made in solitary away from the city.
Back in the early 1960s, I regularly attended church camp at Inlow Youth Camp here in New Mexico. But through the years, one experience stands out from all the rest. We arrived on a hot day in mid-July and checked in our cabins. Our cabin announced was that there would be tryouts for camp pianist that afternoon. That was for me. I had been taking lessons since the third grade and I knew I would get the job. The pride in me just swelled.
At tryouts, I played my favorite hymn and even added some extra base chords. I performed beautifully, I thought. At the end of the session, I strolled out of the open-air tabernacle with a feeling of pride.
I couldn’t wait for the announcement about who had been chosen. When services started that night, the camp director went to the podium to announce the name. I got ready to look surprised when he called my name.
The announcement was made but it was not me. Another girl had been chosen. “Don’t they realize that I am much better than she is?” I asked myself. My ego was hurt as I watched the girl play for the whole church camp that night.
After the service, I got out quickly and started up my lonely walk up the dimly lit path to my cabin.
Then I heard a voice call to me.
“Judy, Judy, wait up,” it said.
I turned around. It was her — the chosen pianist.
“Judy,” she said gasping for breath. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to catch you. I ran all the way. You should have gotten the job. You are a great pianist.”
Then she reached out to pat my arm. When she touched me, there in the dim mountain moonlight I noticed that her two middle fingers on her right hand were missing. A feeling of guilt just overwhelmed me.
“Oh…thanks,” I said. “But they chose the right person.”
I thought I was going to die right there on the trail with the dead pine needles and ancient rocks.
She left. I looked up at the million stars above me. I had been wrong — I had really thought I was something and had acted that way. I asked God to forgive me. My pride just got in the way.
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3)
If I have pride, I cannot apologize, I cannot say “I need help,” and I will not go out of my way for anyone. Pride says, “I am better than you.” Pridefulness makes no room for mercy and is void of compassion.
I do believe that pride is the greatest detriment for the Christian and those around her. I am thankful I saw that in myself early on.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org