Humility: How utterly misunderstood this virtue can be in the minds of humankind! I will be the first to admit that I fall into the camp of those who have truly misunderstood the value of the virtue of humility until I started to research this virtue in depth. Once I knew what humility was really all about, I began praying to Jesus for a clean and humble heart.
Let’s start by discussing what humility is NOT: It is not weakness, or humiliation. Humility is not low self confidence. Now that we have that straight, just what is humility in virtuous terms?
For starters, Humility is an understanding of one’s relationship to God. Here’s a perfect example of how I misunderstood this virtue, and misunderstood my relationship to God in the process. When I was working in the banking profession (prior to retiring to go back to school to get my Masters in Pastoral Theology) I viewed my paycheck as my means of financial security. What I failed to recognize was that it was God all along who was, is and always will be my means of financial security. It was when I was reading about Mother Teresa of Calcutta that I learned about true humility. She never worried about where the money was going to come from to feed and clothe the children under her care. She put her faith in God and humbly submitted to focusing her attention on God’s top priority, making it her own. Submission of one’s own will to God is a tough pill to swallow for some people, I included, but that is the true essence of humility: all for the glory of God.
“Humility is the basis of authentic love of others, and it draws us into closer conformity with Christ as it harmonizes us with His humility.” 1 Oh, how I neglected to acknowledge this fact! Here’s another example: Again, while I was working in the banking profession, I cared more about how I came across to others, then caring about others. My pride and vainglory took center stage. I cared more about being right, then being kind. Maybe it was all those years of auditing, but self pride got the better of me on numerous occasions, and I can’t begin to imagine the number of relationships that suffered because of this fault of mine. Since researching this topic, I have learned that much of my agitation, frustration, and anger come from pride! How can I authentically love others, if I am always putting myself first? To think more of others than to think of yourself – that is true humility!
I have been praying for that clean and humble heart for months now. Each day, I see Jesus chipping away at the pride, showing me examples of when and where it wants to raise its ugly head, and giving me the choice to put pride in its place. I have submitted my own will to God’s will and each day I make that choice to clear away the chips of pride and put them in their rightful place – the dust bin of my life. God is cleaning my heart slowly, but surely, and for that I am grateful. All Glory be to God!
Why should we embrace humility? We’ll address the answer to that question in our next reflection on the virtue of humility. Don’t miss it!
1 Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised Edition, Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Print, 1998, p. 513
This post also appears on www.catholicbloggersnetwork.com.