Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Lesson in Humility

So, I've been reading a lot on humility - or rather, I've coincidentally been coming across references to the necessity of such.  Well, it occurred to me that I needed to start praying for humility.  To come across the concept so frequently can only mean that God is attempting to communicate a point to me.  Also coincidentally, it's something I usually always have written down in my prayer notebook, but have I really and truly been praying for it lately?  I gave this some thought and realized that more often than not, the words were just casually splashed on a page as a "proper" prayer request to God. I decided to get more serious and genuine about my pleas for humility.  It occurred to me shortly afterwards that a rocky and potentially painful road lay ahead.  Or, have I already walked this road? Or, better yet - could I be walking it still? 

Let's think about it though--really think about the attainment of humility.  Have you ever asked for humility?  How do we actually attain such a state? Well, we attain it by being humbled, right?  How are we humbled? Just how we get patient by learning patience, we get humility by being taught humility.  I don't think there is just one way, but at least one common way occurs by being so arrogant and full of pride that something or someone brings us to our knees and teaches us humility.  For example, many parents think their own child is the picture of perfection.  Or, at least they pretend that's the case.  Fast forward to the teenage years and the glowing halo that once so brightly surrounded a certain child's head begins to fade.  It may even turn black.  I know this happens because I was once a self-proclaimed "perfect" child who turned rebellious.  Any gleams of light from my halo were quickly blacked out by the age of ....well, age isn't important.  The point is - whether or not my parents were "proud" parents, they undoubtedly learned some valuable lessons in humility if they were.  This is one of the ways the humble become humble. 

As fear of being prideful welled up within me as I considered all of this, I started asking God - well, can I become completely humbled without going through painful lessons?  The answer is no.  Lessons learned are usually going to involve some internal pain if they're really intended to be important lessons.  However, praying earnestly for meekness and humility is another way of attaining such qualities.  Sounds too easy, right?  Well, it would be if God didn't throw in "pride tests" along the way.  I've been subjected to a few of my own, and after some seriously painful admissions of imperfection, I press on. 

The parent/child example isn't the only one.  I used to think I had it "goin' on."  I was cool with a capital "C" and I was going somewhere, buddy!  God has since shown me that I had nothing at all going on.  Ouch.  It hurt when the realization surfaced.  "Nothing, God?" I asked. "Nope, nothing but pride," He answered holding nothing back.  "I didn't have it going on even just a little?" I pleaded with fingers pinched.  His answer was the same, but with an added piercing of pain. He revealed to me that I was arrogant, selfish, and thought way too highly of myself and my plans.  Well, since finding out all this wonderful stuff about myself, all of my best laid plans have crumbled before my feet.  My first book was much less than a best-seller, my master's degree got me nowhere with the state licensing board, I was laid off from my high paying job, and it turns out that I'm not at all cut out to be a nurse.  "Well, God - You happy now?  I have nothing, I tell ya - nothing!" I once yelled at Him.  Interestingly enough, what I thought was nothing turned out to be everything.  It turns out that yes, as a matter of fact, God was very much happy at that point!  By humbling me, God was able to draw me closer to Him, which is what I was already praying for and what He was waiting for.  We can't be full of pride in who and what we are and be close to God at the same time. 

So, God got very personal with me and showed me humility on a whole new level in 2010.  It's not over though, nor will it ever be.  Humility isn't something we stop trying to attain.  We will always need to pray for it because life happens, things get exciting, and we get good at believing we are the ones who made it all happen.  It's not an accident or coincidence that I've been coming across the concept so frequently lately. God is purposely reminding me that I'm to continue praying for and seeking humility.  My take on that?  It must mean that awesome things are about to happen and God is making sure I know who gets the credit. Thank You, Father, for the painful road on which I've already walked and the road of growth I'm still on.  May I never forget that You are responsible for where I go.

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