This is a thought I’ve been wrestling with… This past few months I’ve been thinking alot about what it means to be truly humble. I come from a place that is scared to death of being arrogant, is unsure of how to be confident and so desperately wants to be humble. Someone once asked me, “How do you want people to describe you at your funeral?” First of all I have to acknowledge that I hate that question, but it was also one of those questions I couldn’t let go of. The two words I’ve landed on are gentle and humble. And so here is a thought about humility… I’m not sure how I feel about it all, but if you’re anything like me you’ll find both C.S. Lewis’ & Jesus’ words helpful.
A Thought… A beautiful relationship is birthed out of humility. If you are to truly love someone, you must first realize that you are not deserving of love. If you think you are deserving of love, this means you believe you have earned love on your own merit, which means you are already keeping score. If love depends on the score you will certainly lose. Now, I have to be clear, this sounds harsh to me and it probably is harsh but I think it’s our reality. The reason you and I are deserving and worthy of love has nothing to do with us. It has nothing to do with what we have earned! It has everything to do with who. It has everything to do with who created us. And so we have to ask the questions, “Who created us?” The most simple answer I can come up with is… The God of Love. The Son who was crucified so that we wouldn’t have to constantly be caught up in our losing score. And the Holy Spirit who meets us in the depths of our soul, who restores our innermost beauty. The beauty of God’s image… in us.There is freedom in this!
I wonder if to be truly humble is to set aside yourself because you are so focused on the other. For years I believed humility looked a whole lot like being sheepish and considering myself a nobody. But consider how C.S. Lewis describes a truly humble man: “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
It is by becomeing truly humble that you are able to set your self to the side so that you can actually look deep into the eyes of the person who is standing right in front of you.
It also seems to me that it is through humility that we can begin to realize we are not that different. You struggle with pride like I do. You yearn for a beautiful relationship like I do. And more than anything you wantto belong and be loved like I do. One of the most profound passages about humility in the bible is found in Matthew where Jesus says, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
I struggle to know how to become like a child again… but I think that somewhere deep inside of each of us is a wonder and awe that transcends our own selves and yearns for the other. Although we very rarely see each other this way, if we take the time and try our very hardest, I believe we can see the very image of God in each person. And to see the image of God in your self and in the other… is truly humbling.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Simon & Schuster)