In my 4th or 5th grade year, my parents bought me a new winter coat. I walked a mile or so to school every day and needed something to wear to keep me warm and dry. My Mom and I went to the Cottonwood Mall and searched through store after store. Finally I found the perfect coat. It was knee length, made from off-white faux fur with darker, thicker fur around the cuffs and hood. It buttoned down the front. I loved the coat. During the fall (when it wasn’t cold enough to wear it to school) I took it out of my closet almost every day and tried it on.
Finally, the great day came! It was cold—and snowing. I could even wear the hood! I donned my beautiful coat and walked to school. I felt like a princess!
My euphoria lasted about a week. Every day I loved wearing my coat. But the next week, the unthinkable happened. A girl in my ward, just four houses away from my home, showed up at school with the exact same coat. I was devastated—and very mad! How could she buy my coat? It was my coat. I refused to walk with her to school and spent the day in a dark mood. I soon made up with my friend, but after that, the coat was never quite the same. It was the same coat, but I was not the same.
Looking back on this experience, I can see that I was full of pride. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: ‘Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.’ (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” General Conference, April 1989).
I was pitting my coat against my friend’s coat. If she had the same coat I had, then my coat was no longer “better.” It saw just the “same.” I could not be superior! At least part of my “joy” in the coat had been that no one else had it, not in the coat itself—a classic example of pride.