I often find myself realizing just how terribly flawed I am. This morning our pastor (my father-in-law) preached about humility. It instantly got me thinking about the million and two ways I consistently fail in this area.
I am now aware that I used to have a skewed perspective about pride. I guess I thought that the best way not to be proud was to think badly of yourself. I thought that humility was achieved by not being verbally arrogant. I'm glad to report though that in recent years, I've gained a different perspective. I've learned that humility is a delicate balance between thankfulness and confidence in the abilities and passions God has given us ...and understanding how rebellious, weak and ignorant we are without Him.
Realizing my faults isn't something that I have a hard time doing. I know what it's like to be humiliated and belittled and I run through those things on a daily basis. I tend to over think everything that I do (and say, and think). see I over thought that too, now that I'm re-reading. ha! I am well aware of the things that I'm not very good at. I'm know when I'm being lazy and angsty and jealous. Most of the time I know when I have hurt someone with my words or actions (or lack thereof). I know when my actions don't match what I've said. I know when my 'tone' is less than encouraging and my attitude is really bad and I feel like I fail all of the time.
In some ways this critical mindset of mine can help steer me in the right direction. It can help me see dangers, protect me from some hurts, and plan for things before they happen...
but most of the time, being critical isn't very helpful at all.
The fact is, that when I look at myself like this, I also tend to look at others the same way. I listen carefully to what people say, listen their tone of voice and watch their body language. I try to 'read' them so I can get a feel for what they are thinking and feeling.
I think I see what they are doing and not doing. I think I know what they are thinking about me. I think I know what their priorities are, who they favor, what their motives are. But honestly, how could I possibly know any of that? I'm not in their heads, I don't know their hearts.
The problem with all this 'thinking' it the expectations and assumptions I end up putting into the mix. I know that many of the expectations I put on myself have come from years of expectations that have been put on me. I can quickly (and quite easily) put those on others too.
I do often expect people to be 'doing'. I expect them to be fair and just, to speak honestly, act compassionately and reach out to the lonely ones all of the time. I expect their tone to be right, I expect them to work hard. I expect them to go above and beyond, especially regarding the things I hold most dear. I guess the bottom line is... I want them to have the same priorities a I do.
All this expecting and assuming typically leads me to the point where I get offended. Not only for myself but for the church too. Then I get defensive and I try to justify my attitudes. And just like that... any 'good intentions' I once had are instantly wasted. I've officially hurt myself, and possibly the church too.
Maybe it's because when I'm busy pointing the finger I feel as though I'm directing attention away from myself and my faults. Maybe in the moment I feel relieved. Maybe I'm trying to prove something to God or to myself. Or maybe I'm just being ridiculous. The thing that I consistently fail to recognize though, is that this attitude is going to end up making me feel incredibly guilty and humiliated for real. This feeling isn't caused by something from the past, this isn't "false guilt" or "negative self talk", it's conviction.
One of my worst fears is to really be all the things I've been told. When I react this way, I do become that person ...and I should be embarrassed.
God has been gently addressing this issue with me. He's also been convicting me about the anger and aggravation that often boils inside me. Sometimes I really can get so worked up that I forget the my main goal of just loving. Being human doesn't allow for a perfectionist mentality. I can only control myself, my mind, my heart. I can't expect perfection from anyone. I just have to depend on God's grace and mercy with me. I, in turn, need to extend the same grace to others and trade in my expectations for compassion.
Even though this song doesn't mention 'humility' I think it's speaks to idea of grace and forgiveness... plus I really like it ;)
CLICK TO LISTEN
"Father, give me grace to forgive them... cause I feel like the one losing..." Ain't that that truth.