scales

Image courtesy of

Vichaya Kiatyang-Angsulee/Free Digital Photos.net

Well, today is the day I swallow my pride (or try to) and address the topic of humility. In AA’s (1952) Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, the authors emphasized that humility does not mean being humiliated but does mean realizing the futility of self-reliance and focusing instead on an awareness of and willingness to  follow God’s direction. Furthermore, it argues that alcoholics need this characteristic to stay sober and that without it they will never by happy or lead useful lives…..and, when difficulties arise, they won’t have  the faith it takes to survive them.

Another author (Anonymous, 1988, p. 46) in A New Day 365 Mediations for Personal an Spiritual Growth has this to say about humility:

“It is a form of surrender, in the most positive spiritual sense. We gain humility by giving up our pride and self-will in order to seek and do God’s will. It is an honest, accurate gauge of our liabilities, weaknesses, strengths, and assets…One of the most important ways we acquire humility is by accepting our personal limitations…it requires humility on our part to recognize the need to seek help from a Power greater than ourselves.”

Humility, then, is something not only worth having but an essential foundation for spiritual growth even for those who are not recovering alcoholics. It  can be a scary thing to realize one’s personal limitations—to realize being self-reliant is not enough by itself. After all, movies, television, and novels—-and, yes, fairy tales—have indoctrinated us from childhood that if we are strong and persistent we can win out in the end. Just ask Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood. I don’t know about you, but I have been forced by life’s lessons to abandon my belief in fairy tales…but, thank God, I can still believe in magic;  God’s grace has gifted with magic aplenty.

So, we are faced with a bit of challenge. What can we do to practice this type of humility?  A devotional reading I read this morning introduces a Buddhist concept, “beginner’s mind” that  suggests  we redirect our thoughts to a “beginner’s” mentality whenever we start assessing and judging our performance. Specifically, the devotional reading goes on to say, “Beginner’s mind can be applied to all of life. So many times pride is an attempt to puff ourselves up larger than we secretly think we are, which makes us anxious. Humility frees us from all that drama” (Forward DAY by DAY, 79(2), p.45).

Reading this quote this morning was what focused my attention on the concept of humility. I have been trying to understand and practice humility for quite some time, decades even. This paragraph simplifies the concept in a way  I can easily apply. Whenever I start blaming myself for not being properly humble or patting myself on the back for “finally getting it’—–I can just walk my consciousness back to starting position and remind myself each step is a beginning. That levels the playing field, takes care of my ego, and puts everything in the proper perspective. As I’ve often heard said, “I can’t; God can; I think I’ll let him.”

I look forward to reading your comments on the topic of “humility.” Thanks.

Advertisements