Humble. It’s not a word often encouraged in today’s dog-eat-dog world.
Humility. A trait that is sometimes considered a weakness.
Humiliating. Nothing anyone wants to experience.
Humility is defined as a state of being humble, lowering onself in relation to others, being free of arrogance and pride, and having a modest opinion of yourself. Doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it?
In fact, meekness is not a weakness; it’s a strength.
So, we are encouraged to have humility and be humble and yet experiencing a humiliating experience is not something we long for. Right?
I experienced all three this past week.
I was dealt a humiliating blow that reminded me about the power of humility. As is often the case, the person who humiliated me is anything but humble. News flash mister: arrogance doesn’t earn respect. Just sayin.
Don’t get me wrong, I own it, I failed, and I acknowledge my fallibility. I also fully recognize that everyone, including me, needs to be subjected to disapproval every now and then, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Constructive criticism is just that: constructive. Mean and insulting commentary is just that: mean.
No one likes to be criticized, especially on something they hold dear to their heart and something they pride themselves on. But, you listen and you learn. Sometimes you learn how to improve the very thing you were criticized about, sometimes you learn that the spoken words say more about who spoke them than they do about you, and sometimes you learn to just move on. In my case, I’ve done the first two. It’s the last one I’m having trouble with.
How do you move on when something you have worked so hard on is deemed as “disappointing” and just not up to par? Yep, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Maybe all those t-shirts and signs at OU when I was a student that said “It’s hard to be humble when you’re a Sooner” have come back to bite me in the butt. Maybe I’m overreacting. I’m super good at that. Maybe the mean and demeaning words that I keep repeating in my head were somewhat accurate and will ultimately prove beneficial. In a way, they already have been. But still, what self-respecting person gets off on talking like that to someone who’s trying to help them? I was caught off guard and am still both shocked and disappointed.
I think the fact that the words were so unkind and even a bit contradictory to previous communications is what bothers me more than what they were actually conveying. Criticize me all you want, just do so in a professional and respectful manner. I’ve been doing this a long time. I can take it. I promise. What I can’t take is an attitude of superiority. That’s when all these years of doing this tell me, you don’t deserve this and you don’t need this.
When you have hesitations about something, don’t ignore them. Frankly my dear, it’s your intuition and you should give a damn. Called your internal radar for a reason, it’s also one of the most powerful tools you have when it comes to making decisions. Surprisingly as I’ve gotten older, I have trouble with this. As firmly as I hold my beliefs, I labor over making a decision sometimes. I overthink things, overanalyze things, and can somehow be convinced of things I’m not 100 percent sure of. Not anymore though. No mas. From now on my gut will be my go-to.
Not doing this caused the self-doubts I’m thinking and the brokenness I’m feeling. But it also brings to mind how often we are called to be humble in the bible. God rewards humility with grace. He instructs us in 1 Peter 5:5 to “clothe ourselves with humility” and tells us in Matthew 23:13 that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” On top of that, two of the Virtues call for meekness and humility, the Fruits of the Holy Spirit include meekness, and one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is the Gift of Piety.
This whole thing also reminds me of the centuries-old Japanese art of mending broken pottery called “kintsugi.” When a piece is broken, gold dust is mixed with resin to fix the cracks and make it whole again. I love that instead of trying to hide the breaks, the process makes something beautiful out of what was once broken. That’s my plan for this week. Focus on healing not hiding; growing not grumbling. I am humbled to do so.