drowning

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In  As Bill See s It (Alcoholics Anonymous, As Bill Sees It, p. 106, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.: New York) one of its co-founders had this to say about what humility: “Perfect humility would be a full willingness, in all times and places, to find and to do the will of God.” In contrast, Golda Meir has been cited as having said, “Don’t be humble; you’re not that great” ” (Warner, C., 1992, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, p. 279, Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall). Well, now I’m confused. I admire and respect both of these people’s opinions. Where does the real truth about humility lie?

Personally, I tend, on a good day, to gravitate towards Bill’s definition of perfect humility. My problem lies in the word “perfect”—because I am not always able to meet that standard. On the days I am not willing to seek and follow God’s will, then I am sure my practice of humility would come nearer to matching Golda Meir’s quote. I have heard people speak about their humility with a notable sense of pride. When I am that person—-in my thoughts or spoken words—then I do need to tell myself I am not that great. The Encarta Dictionary built into this laptop says humility is the “quality of being modest or respectful.” Golda seems to be losing this “debate.”

So, now I have to bite the bullet and start writing about what humility means to me. I will start by explaining what I have learned it does not mean. It does not mean belittling or shaming yourself, having a poor self image, being “less-than”, unworthy, without merit or any other self-depreciative concept or term. I have come to believe humility is a form of respect (including self-respect) and modesty (AA’s Big Book calls this “being right-sized”).  That is why I know Bill is right—-I cannot be right-sized if I am trying to play God and follow my own stubborn, false-pride driven direction. I can only be “right-sized” when I surrender to God and realize I am human, made in God’s image, but not God. God is in control; I am not. With that realization and the suggestions inherent in the 12 steps, I have learned that I also have to seek and follow God’s will if I want to grow spiritually and remain “right-sized” and humble.

Part of being humble is being “other-focused” rather than “self-focused.” The moment things start “being all about me” I know I have let go of God’s hand and jumped off the boat into the sea of self-will run riot. At those times I blindly thrash about seeking to grab hold of anything I can that will feed my starved ego which is desperately seeking anything (accomplishment, compliments, attention, etc.) that can feed its expansion. Eventually, this “swelling balloon of false pride” feeds itself to the point of  once again bursting, and I grab hold of God’s hand which has remained outstretched reaching for me all along.

I am very much interested in what you, my readers, have to say about what the concept of humility means in your lives. Please comment and share your thoughts on this topic. May God bless and keep you.

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