I remember being alone in the dark. I came to an enormous tree, looked up, and felt an awe overcome me. I was suddenly put in my place and felt great respect for this force of nature. And that helped me to tap into humility.
My mental health turned for the worse this week, and well I became only too aware that my good health is not always in my hands. The seasonal cold; the high stress of Christmas; the reminder of being single all have an impact. But sometimes, no matter my efforts to be functional, I have to submit to the unpredictable nature of my illness.
Thinking of myself less
The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis knew what he was talking about when he said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” As I sat in my chair waiting to see the doctor, I looked around to see many others who were suffering. Some may have lacked support of family and friends; some may go without a Christmas dinner; some may experience physical health problems on top of their mental health challenges.
Humility, perhaps surprisingly is a most precious gift: it relieves you of any perfectionistic pressures. It enables you to let go the reigns of control and to cooperate with the spirit of the world. You can make decisions based on the reality of your situation rather than straining yourself with what is not there. The spirit moves me to write, so I write.
A little miracle
In a depressive state, the cons of attending my college graduation outweighed the pros, so I declined the invitation. My instructor phoned me and said there was no pressure to make a speech but that he’d love to see me there. Something stirred within me. In the end, I made it to my graduation and spoke publicly for the sake of others. I applied the humility principle and surprised even myself.
Held by love
I’ve been reminded that humility is also about knowing that I am held by love. I ponder that I do not need to do anything for this to take place. I am right just the way I am. So it’s ok to feel powerless. It’s ok to be the small man.
Humility is a central theme to the Christmas story. The infant Jesus is powerless yet held by the love of the universe. The participants who surround him think of themselves less: they gaze and praise. The three wise men follow the Star of Bethlehem until they greet the infant with gifts and bended knees.