Humility isn’t a word I’ve ever used. For the past three years I chose a word in December that would be a theme for the upcoming year. Each time God stepped in and changed my chosen word almost as soon as I picked it. My first word was abundance, and God chose reverence. The second year was enthusiasm, and God picked obedience. This year I didn’t even try to choose. Instead, I asked God in prayer what He wanted my word to be, and He chose humility (insert freaking-out face here!).
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word humility, I immediately think about humiliation, which sounds horrible. Here I was thinking obedience was a tough word! My year of obedience led me back into the Catholic Church…what on earth is going to happen in a year of humility? Let me tell you.
John 3:30- He must increase, but I must decrease.
Humility (n)- a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness
Luke 14:11- For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
I teach people how to give up their ego for a living, and yet God feels there is still something I need to learn about being humble. What could it be? If we want to know who we are and what our purpose is, we need to understand that we are children of God, created perfectly in his image. So many people struggle with owning this inheritance, which can result in self-esteem issues, jealousy, envy, depression, anxiety and apathy. But, it turns out that it’s not enough just to know who we are. In order to grow in faith and love we need to recognize that all we are comes from God and that without Him, we are nothing.
Why would God want us to feel small and like nothing? There are three reasons. First, in order to best understand the Father, we need to be like children. It’s true, children are ignorant and some might even think of them as insignificant, but children are absent of ego, full of love and open to learning. They carry no baggage, trust infinitely and live in the present moment. In taking on these qualities, we allow God to be God, and we easily trust in His plan. Next, in order to imitate Christ in self-giving love, which aligns us with God and each other, we must see the divinity in all of humanity. By reminding ourselves that no human being is below us, we are more inclined to serve them whole-heartedly. Finally, if we understand the glory and might of God, then we know it only matters what He thinks, and not what our fellow men think. Our ways become God’s ways, so we can no longer be humiliated by men. It’s hard to be “made low” if you are already there!
Ponder this story in Luke 14:8-11
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
A number of things have happened this year to teach me humility. A beloved family member told me that they still love me, they just don’t like the person I have become. While praying in adoration, Jesus told me to cover my head, and in order to obey I began wearing a veil in a church full of people who no longer practice this ancient devotion. I was mortified, and the initial criticism of my typically supportive husband didn’t help. Most recently, the scandal that has erupted in the church has made me part of an institution viewed with disgust and reprehensibility. Fun times! But through all of this, I know that I am answering God’s call, so the peace of Christ is with me.
2 Chronicles 7:14- If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
In humility I pray, may it be so, Lord, may it be so.
Have you struggled with humility? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences below. It’s interesting how these things always help us grow!
Hugs and blessings,
PS- If you need help moving through your own humiliations, spiritual direction can help. Find out more here.