November 25, 2012

Practicing Humility

I have struggled with practicing the virtues for a long time.  Recently, however, I have stumbled across ways to put humility into action.  I honestly think these insights came from prayer, asking God to show me His will for me and to give me the power to carry it out.  And it takes power to put humility into practice, because it hurts.  It is suffering willfully taken on for the greater glory of God.

Here is one of my experiences:

It is Thanksgiving and I have to travel an hour to be with my family.  After my son tells me his plans for that weekend, I realize it will be most convenient if I can stay overnight at my sister's house after our Thanksgiving meal.  She is the one hosting the day's event and she is the one closest in age to me.  I have stayed at her house many times with my sons.

When I ask, she says she would ordinarily say yes, but they are doing the bedrooms over and there is no furniture in the spare room.  My initial thought is to travel an hour back to my house, sleep there, and travel back up the next day to pick up my son.  Reality then sets in.  That will be two extra hours of driving, which will cost for gas and wear and tear on my car.  I am trying to save money.  Can't I do this differently?

I decide driving all the way home will be silly and maybe I should ask my other sister to stay with her.  The glitch is that I have never stayed over at my other sister's home.  I always felt like I would be intruding if I asked to stay.  My insecurities have made me believe she does not want me to stay there, and hopes I never ask her to do so.

So, I think.  What would happen if I ask her and she says yes?  "It will be too awkward.  What are we going to talk about?  We are just not in sync....etc.  Her husband will be there and he and I are hardly in sync as well.  All three of us have little in common.  We will not know what to talk about and that will be too awkward.  I can't stand it.  I'm not going to ask."  My family of origin insecurities arise.  I drop the idea.

But God doesn't.  He brings it back to me and starts me thinking about humility.  "How can I practice humility in this situation?"  I go through it in my mind.

It will be awkward when we don't have anything to talk about.  It will be awkward eating breakfast with them.  It will be awkward sleeping in the room next to them, etc.  I might be embarrassed if they bring something up that I don't want to talk about.

It finally dawns on me.  So what?  A little bit of awkwardness never killed anyone.  I can withstand that pain.  Let the ego die.  I'd save money and I would also spend time with that sister and her husband and maybe breakthrough some of our discomfort.  And if not, it would still be worth the try.  Humility comes to me.  "Just override the awkwardness.  Don't do life in a vacuum.  You are no better than your sister.  Be awkward together.  Deal with it." 

So, I do.  I ask to stay over.  My husband and my sister say yes.  I end up having some great 1-on-1 conversations with both of them.  We watch the birds together.  We pet the cats.  We have plenty of things to talk about.  I deepen my relationships and enjoy my time with them, which would happen even if the exchange was not so enjoyable.  I have learned that deepening my relationship with others does not only happen when I am in sync with others.  Part of relationships entail enduring the uncomfortable together.  Doing that deepens things as well.

Humility.  Humility does not have to be a grand effort.  Step over the smallest of your insecurities and get God's work done despite them.  Along the way, unite your sufferings to Jesus and believe you are contributing to the salvation of the world while you are willfully taking on awkwardness/pain.

Peace to all of you,

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