December 16, 2020

Humbler on the Other Side?

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

When 2020 took its hairpin turn in mid-March from a run of the mill year to an extraordinary one my first reaction was a desire to not simply endure, but to come out better on the other side.

What did that mean? I think I wanted to take advantage of the slower pace of life. Well, okay, it was more an abrupt halt, akin to hitting a wall at full speed. But nonetheless, I saw opportunity in living slowly.

I responded in my usual way…I was going to do this pandemic “right”.  As in, I will be the best example of a person in a pandemic.

This almost made me crazy.  Because there is no “right” way to do this pandemic.  No full buy-in on any approach.  No matter what I do I feel I am being judged and found wanting.

And I like to be right.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I usually am right.

Did that rub you the wrong way?  Sure it did, because claiming to be right all the time really smacks of arrogance doesn’t it?

I’m not unaware of my own arrogance.  I’m acutely aware of it.  And my need for humility. I know this is what Jesus calls me to…humility.  But in a very practical way, how exactly am I supposed to be humble?

It is said if you think you’re humble, you’ve missed it.  So how does one grasp this elusive vapor-like character quality?

C.S Lewis has made the point that humility is not a beautiful woman looking in the mirror and thinking she is ugly.  Rather humility is a beautiful woman looking in the mirror and acknowledging that she is beautiful but then thinking no more about it than she would a beautiful sunset.

Kind of a, Oh that’s pretty, and we’re moving on…

But that explanation, while helpful, doesn’t cover all the bases for me. So, I’ve been asking the one who knows what humility is, to help me understand it.  I’ve been asking for quite a while. And recently I came across something that really helped me understand humility in a very practical way.

Since the pandemic began, I have been using the You Version app and reading its verse of the day and accompanying short teaching clip and written devotional.

November 14 the verse of the day was 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Humble myself.  Okay, I’m in. How?

The devotion writer suggested that to humble myself I needed to surrender, specifically, surrender my will, my ego and my anxiety.

Why those three? Will. Ego. Anxiety. Interesting trio. After much reflection this is what I am thinking…

My will is wanting things done MY way. 

My ego is wanting them done my way because I know best.

My anxiety is fear that if things are not done my way, which is best, something bad will happen.

I have found these thoughts give me a very practical way to practice humility. I ask myself: Am I pushing for something to go MY way? Why do I think I know what is best? What am I afraid of?

And as I talk to God about these questions, I surrender my will- Okay Lord, I will stop pushing for my way. I surrender my ego- I think this is right, but I could be wrong, so I yield. And then I must surrender my fear, which is typically driving the other two. I’m afraid of “this” Lord, please help me in my fear.

Am I humbler? I couldn’t tell you, because if I did, well then, I’m not.

But we’re not to the other side quite yet, we’re close, but maybe there’s still time for me to become a little more like Jesus.  There’s certainly time for me to surrender. Surrender my will, my ego and my anxiety. Yielding those things to God is an act of trust. I trust his will not mine. I trust his judgement not mine. And in trusting him I do not have to be afraid.