Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6
I think we forget something about humility. It’s–I know!–one of the gag words. No one wants a piece of humble pie served up so big and unavoidable and public (why does that always seem to be the case with me?) that there is no choice but to gulp it down as fast as possible. I think we forget that it’s not a bad thing. Mother Theresa said it best:
“Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal” (from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers ).
You know who you are:
Very good (Genesis 1:31)
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
A Child of God (John 1:12)
His Friend (John 15:5)
Justified and Redeemed (Romans 3:24)
Set Free (Romans 8:17)
Heir of Christ (Romans 8:2)
Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Part of a holy Priesthood (1 Peter 2:5)
Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2)
(There is a longer list at: Bible.org that is worth looking at.)
When this knowledge of true identity pierces our core, we no longer struggle for identity in this world. We no longer scurry about like crabs across an unforgiving shore, trying to build an identity that will be washed away by the tides of circumstance. We stand firm in Jesus as the waves rise and fall. We know who we are and what we’re not, what we’re called to do and what we can let go of. It is here we find humility, obedience, chastity. It’s here we become the offering.
I started to grasp this right after Sam was diagnosed. Things were different than they had been before, deep inside of me. It was the first time ever in my life that I knew God was in control. And I was scared–oh, so, so, scared–but I just kept praying and waking up in the night and propping myself up in bed, looking down at my pregnant belly.
A thought came to me, a thought that changed everything:
What if this isn’t about you?
I grabbed my belly at the startle jerking me fully awake. What if this isn’t about me? Then, who, Lord, is it about? Who could possibly benefit from this middle of the night soul breaking and fear so deep I can’t see to the bottom of it? Who could this POSSIBLY BE FOR?
An image formed over these last years, one from the Bible, one I had read a thousand times and jumped past:
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17
And I have begun to absorb this truth, this deep down marrow of understanding, that I am not here for me. What happens to me, what happens to my family, may just be bigger than the sum of parts embodying this household. Maybe what is happening here, if offered up, if laid down, pours off the altar of my ego and floods the streets of another’s heart. And what if that other pours their own life out onto their own altar of self and into the aching heart of yet another? And what if this pouring out and offering up, this base of humility, this nakedness triggers healing and resurrection and peace down the way and around the bend, past where I could control and forsee?
I stand naked, poured out, used up, and full. My pain resurrects into healing balm for another.
And so I submit. I submit because I want this to be a life so rung out of pain and joy that on my last breath, there isn’t one drop left. Everything that can be used against me, every arrow let loose, every rock meant to stone, stacks up to be my altar. I bow low, lift chalice of self high, pour it out and watch the evil, dark, and torment morph into lightness.
I laugh at what is left of pride in me, and I wonder why it took so long to fold to my Maker. I wonder, every time I see her rear up, ready to defend and rip and prove, how much lower I can bow. I wonder, too, how much longer it will take me to get there. I want to be so low I am the dirt and rejoice to be it. The lower, the higher, world without end.
I have begun to wonder if pride is excised from my heart, how much love can flow from the chasm leftover. How much does pride keep us from loving each other, running after each other? How much does pride keep me from calling or texting when I feel I have been devalued, ignored, forgotten? What if those simple words, what if it’s not all about me? penetrate so deep that I push through pride and hurt and jealousy right into BIG LOVE?
What if I show up to just be love? What if I stand up when you’ve pushed me down, or pushed me away? What if I forgive you even though you have no idea how deeply you’ve wounded me? What if I shake with the hurt you have caused, but still grab you in my arms? What if I just start loving you the way Jesus loves me? And I go back to Him with my anger and my callouses and my broken splinters? I know He can take them, heal them, turn them inside out to balm. I know He will remind me of all I am in Him, nothing you could ever take away.
What if you built my altar of brokenness? That’s between you and God. But I know this altar, this great monument I offer myself up on, is of this world. And I have been shattered into a thousand pieces, but stand more whole the more I own my brokenness.
Let’s love each other. Let’s be the drink offering poured out. Let’s change the world by getting so low only He can resurrect these hurts.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Here’s to getting low.
Praise, praise, praise the Lord.
P.S. This blog has been truly inspired by the fourth chapter, “What the Humble Seek,” of Matt Chandler’s To Live is Christ: To Die is Gain, which is a beautiful study of the book of Philippians.