“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
It’s been brought to my attention lately that I have a great deal to learn where humility is concerned. As painful as it is, the joyful irony is that only a God of infinite love and mercy would bother to teach this lesson.
Here’s what I suspect: much of what I think are the evidences of humility in my life are really something else entirely. There’s an ongoing skirmish between a desire for holiness (tainted with pride), discouragement over failings (tainted with pride) and goals of using my talents in the best way possible ~ for God’s glory of course. (Also tainted with pride.) Ugh.
The discouragement part is quite seductive actually, because it can give the appearance of sorrowful humility when it is often wounded pride. Humility does not mean I must dislike myself. To speak ill of myself, to mentally berate myself over my flaws and mistakes is not evidence of humility. It is evidence of pride. It just means I’ve not lived up to my expectation of myself, or worse, my delusion of grandeur. If I fail to live up to my standard of perfection I fear that I will be less esteemed by others. So I scold myself, feel sorry for myself, and cover my pride by declaring what a weak sinner I am, wailing “dear Jesus, please forgive me!”
In this way, I can feel superior to those wretched souls that don’t even have the decency to say they’ve done wrong and ask for pardon. You see, I’m less sorry for the particular sin, less sorry that I have offended my Lord than I am for having revealed the humiliating truth that I am not nearly as grand as I’d like to think I am.
Hiding within this discouragement is the unspoken craving for distinction ~ I must conquer my failings and defects in order to achieve the reputation I seek. This is what tarnishes the desire for holiness and turns the focus on me rather than on Jesus. In my secret heart – in hidden thoughts I never utter out loud – I fear that what Almighty God has ordained for me and my life is too modest, too common, too bland for my taste, and I try to persuade Him for more glory for myself while claiming to seek only His. I want what I want, and I beg Him to want it as well.
I must ask myself if I truly am willing to take the place God has ordained for me today without yearning for something “better” or more. As St. Therese put it, not every flower can be a rose. Some are wildflowers or daisies or violets.
I realize how much of my heart wants to be a rose and nothing else, because I fear that otherwise, I will not be special to Him at all. I fear He will not even see me as He walks past and will instead reach only for the stunning red rose, smile approvingly at it, and step on my tiny plain petals as He goes away. I fear being forgotten, dismissed and rejected.
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