Some years ago, we attended a conference with dear friends. The four of us were already sitting in the cheap seats when I (David) started talking with the keynote speaker for the event, someone I greatly admired and wanted to get to know better.
In the course of the conversation, the speaker asked me and Caron to join him on the front row. I had a quick decision to make. Sit with this well-known speaker in a prominent place or stay blended in the crowd with our friends.
To this day, it saddens me that I made the wrong choice. And, because I did, we lost a cherished friendship.
Over the years, so much sleep and energy have also been lost by trying to keep ourselves noticed or feeling important. We often blamed our overwhelm or anxiousness on other factors but we see now how this unconscious drive was a primary cause of so much stress in our lives.
If you’re looking for more freedom and ease Thomas Merton suggests this:
“In humility is the greatest freedom.
As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important,
you lose your peace of heart.”
According to Merton, humility is the key to peace.
So, what might this look like in practice?
- holding a sober assessment of ourselves (Romans 12)
- not jockeying for a better position in a room, or on a podium (Luke 14:11)
- having no reputation to protect, no fear of admitting weakness or even failure
- giving others preference, taking no thought of going unnoticed
- learning to see ourselves as we are before God, nothing more & nothing less than anyone else- happy to be the same as others
- little concern for who’s got more or who has less than we do
- not into name dropping or needing people to know when we’ve been with someone “important”
- losing the urge to project our power, influence, or status when meeting someone new or speaking to a group or audience
- losing interest in winning arguments, not needing to prove our way of thinking is the right way
Humility is not about being humiliated. It’s not fake humbleness. And it’s not about putting yourself down or making yourself look bad.
Humility is living with confidence in the good view God already has of you
that leaves you with nothing to prove and lacking no good thing.
(*One side note here: count on your ego going to war with you over any move you make toward humbleness.)
Living with a right-sized view of ourselves is yet another way we practice self-awareness.
But, to get there, sometimes, it takes going through the fire, failing greatly, or being sidelined by illness or some other circumstance beyond our control.
Sometimes, it takes something drastic to open our eyes.
Spending so much time wanting others to think highly of us just weighed us down and wore us out.
Our goal now is not to impress you with our knowledge or status but to relax in the freedom of living, loving & leading from our True selves in God.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more, nothing less.
– John of the Cross