The mystery about humility — and the promise of its bounty

Humility. What is it really? A virtue of the noblest kind, that’s what I think it is. It is defined as a perception of one’s importance lower than others. It is the antithesis of pride by which one elevates self; in pride oneself is superior to others. It is meekness, modesty corollary to the desire to serve. Humility is not cowardice. On the contrary, it is courage and strength of spirit that stays above the fray of mundane cares and appearances.

The paradox about humility, however, is it doesn’t come easy. It can be elusive many times and in a lot of ways. When you catch it, hold it close, because it gets away, like sand that escapes through your fingers when you try to clench it in your hand. When you do have it, you feel an inner peace, and beautiful in the inside. That inner beauty is like light that cannot be quenched.

To be humble is to be selfless. Focus on self is so inherent in our nature, that to turn our attention away to someone else can be a struggle. In the daily routine of living, self often is the pivot for our actions, thoughts and decisions. How we react toward others hinges on our judgment of how and how much those others affect us.

To consider others at least in the same light and importance as self is, in my estimate, an achievement of the spirit. To think of others more deserving than self is sainthood. I believe, anyone is capable of moments of sainthood. To maintain consistently that level of nobility of spirit may be a challenge. But couldn’t we at least try for some noble moments? The opportunities abound.

I think of humility in the heart of a mother, or father – parents who put a son’s or daughter’s welfare above theirs.

I think of humility in those that care for the sick, or help the disadvantaged without seeking their own glorification nor touting their privilege.

Humility is in one who forgives, despite the pain and inner wrangling – and one who seeks forgiveness in remorse.

Humility is in the soldiers who go to battle, laying their life on the line as they place in high regard the security and protection of their country.

Humility is in the teachers who toil over their lessons to impart for the education and advancement of their students, focusing attention not only on those who are smart, but also on those that are challenged.

Humility is in the older adult who listens carefully to instructions on the novelties and complexities of technology that seem to have been ingrained in the nature of the younger generation.

Humility is in the child poring over the mazes of next day’s homework, despite the nagging itch to play outside.

Humility is in one who faithfully loves, and stays genuinely concerned for the welfare of the beloved.

Humility is in gratitude, in awed wonder of the benevolence, power and sovereignty of the One who created all.

I feel humility as I sit quietly listening, soaking in the teachings during a Sunday worship, and then, singing my heart out in praises and thanksgiving to the Lord.

Really, humility abounds; it’s all around us, in simple or intricate means, maybe even in odd and unexpected ways. A myriad more examples exist. We may think humility is a formidable virtue hard to have or maintain, but there’s a generous sprinkling of it in humanity. It would be awesome of us to contribute amply to that treasure pot of “humilities”. Then maybe, this would be a better world for you and me.

Linda P. Jacob

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