I’ve been dying to write down my thoughts. Here, on my blog, or in my journal. I’ve been learning SO MUCH this summer. It’s amazing to me how we continue to learn and live valuable lessons throughout our whole lives. God continues to teach us. If you’re still here on earth, you have more to learn. You have more to give, yes, but also more to become, more to grow.
So this summer I’ve been learning humility. At times, it’s been hard and ugly to go through, but the fruit is… beautiful. When I choose to deny myself and take up my cross, it’s hard and it’s ugly, but it brings beauty.
This summer, God showed me, in all its ugliness, the extremes in my own personal pendulum: on one side is pride and on the other side is martyrdom. It plays out like this: something happens that I don’t like, or I don’t want to happen, or that doesn’t happen the way I think it should. And my “What about me?” self comes out. “What about me? What about me? What about me?” How does what is happening right now affect me? Everyone should care about how this is affecting me!
And I know it’s easy to dismiss me, dismiss what I’m saying, as happening only to me. But I know it is happening to you, too. I know because I see the same symptoms in you that I see in me – impatience, frustration, anger outbursts, pity parties. Those are all symptoms of pride. Selfishness. Satan. Call it what you will, but it results from a lack of humility.
I am always struck by a the passage where Jesus is falsely accused and keeps quiet. When I’m falsely accused of something, heck, even when I’m rightly accused of something, I want to declare my innocence to the world. I want to prove that I’m innocent. It’s not enough to even be innocent. I want you to realize that I’m innocent.
This shows up several different ways. First, I want to tell you all the things going on in my life so you sympathize with me. Here, I get to be the victim. I want to tell you every harsh word that was spoken to me, so that you understand me and agree with me.
And then, I want everyone to do what I want them to do. Why can’t my kids do the things I want them to do when I want them to do it? Why can’t my husband? Why can’t my friends? Don’t you see how hard everything you’re doing is on ME?!?
Okay, so these are all the ugly feelings. All the symptoms. So how did God teach me humility?
First, He spoke about it in His Word. He lived it out in His life. And I’ve read these Words and studied this Life for a really long time. In essence, He softened my heart by gently telling me all the things I needed to hear over a whole bunch of years.
Then, He set up circumstances to test me. Wrong word, maybe. If not test me, then allow me to practice what I’d been taught. How can I know if I’ve really learned something if I don’t ever really live it out? So, friends deserted me and spoke badly of me. Children needed me at inopportune times. (In fact, just having children at all is a circumstance set up to test our Christian walk.) A certain toddler is what some in the south might call a curtain climber. Situations with my husband required acknowledging personal and corporate mistakes.
And the victim and the Almighty Self couldn’t cut it. I was in a personal crisis that required a personal God to teach me personal lessons. I had to cry out to God for forgiveness. To acknowledge that I suck (my non-theological term for being a sinner). I know this. I know that apart from Him, I am ugly and yucky. Some can claim that they are pretty good people, better than most in fact. But I can NOT claim that. I know that I am truly awful. This is not victim-talk. This is truth.
But the other truth is that He has given me worth. He’s ascribed it to me. He has made me a co-heir with Jesus! He has made me, in effect, a princess.
Acknowledging all this taught me what it means to be humble. I can acknowledge that I suck, and that I’m a princess in God’s kingdom, at the SAME TIME!
So now if a friend bails on me when I need her most, and says ugly things about me to other people (which is where you can hurt me the most because above all else, if I do something wrong I don’t want everyone to know about it), but now I can see all the things going on in her life. And I can have sympathy for HER. I don’t have to be a victim. Or be selfish. I can acknowledge that in Christ I have all I need, and say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I would bail on a friend in need, in fact I have bailed on a friend in need. So being angry or frustrated or even sad for my own self is unnecessary. Wrong. I deserve what I get. I realize that I do. And I’m able to release all the bitterness and unforgiveness, and love what is unlovable. [Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating being a doormat or some such cliche. I just advocate truly viewing myself as what I truly am.]
Legalism, something that angered me before and pushed all my “you are so wrong and you need to hear it from me” buttons, now truly hurts my heart when I see it. In humility, it’s something that makes me sad for the legalistic person. It’s okay if you think something I’m doing is wrong, and you’re wrong about it. Maybe you’re not, but maybe you are. If you’re not, then the Holy Spirit will convict me, I promise. He will continue to work on me with that issue until he molds me to His image. I know this because He’s done it. But if you are wrong, and you’re just being legalistic because you think you know what’s better for everyone else, then that’s okay, too. Instead of getting angry or debating you to the death, I’m just going to pray that the Holy Spirit will convict you! In humility, I’m going to let Him handle you.
I don’t know. I just needed to get this out there. I need a record of what I’ve learned so that I can refer back to it. I need to remember how the Lord taught me humility, how He continues to teach me humility. It’s a lesson that was so needed in my life, and I need it more every day. I don’t want to go back to pride. So I freely admit publicly my issues. I hope it helps someone else. But if not, I hope it keeps me humble to know that you know all these things about me.