humility is a virtue


Isaiah 55:8-9                                                                   

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Humility is a great virtue. I think I prize this virtue now more than at any other time in my life. There was a time when I looked for confidence and strength and assuredness as great qualities in others, and myself. But now given what I know, or more precisely what I now know I don’t know, I value that sense of being aware of our limitations. I love it when we can be honest and authentic about our ignorance and confusion and be open to whatever we can glean from the Divine.

When people tell me they are praying over something I hope they are truly open to new answers, unexpected epiphanies. I worry they are waiting on some confirmation of what they already know. Praying for that tap on the shoulder, “you are right, they are wrong” seems less a prayer and more a pious way of saying, “I was right all along, if only you had listened to me.”

In a universe as complicated, mysterious and complex as the one we all inhabit how can be certain of anything? At long last what I know as certainty is a list that gets smaller every year. My affection and attraction for the Gospels and the Psalms gets stronger and stronger because amidst all this confusion there is such compelling love and authentic relationship I can’t do anything but follow. Am I certain about the details? Not really. It is the arc of Divine experience, of healing, of wisdom, of redemption, of justice, of new life, of humility, of deep connections, that wills me to the Divine. This life pattern of being broken, being healed and being whole with the other/Other is the stuff of a meaningful life.

So why are we so often certain of our rightness and others’ wrongness? Why do we expend such energy feeling slighted because others have failed to heed our judgment and advice? For me I care most about how others find healing, justice and peace. If we collectively take other advice than mine and others find that pathway to wholeness and I happy and delighted to give credit to the advice that paved the way.

I am convinced that Google and the internet have given us tools that privilege our own opinions above what others know. We live in a time when someone online can believe s/he knows more about a topic than someone who has studied it for years, all because we trust our own judgment and thinking more than anyone else. This pride often leaves us deaf to the wisdom of others, the wisdom of the Other. How can we truly listen for that still small voice of the Divine when we are so busy making noise promoting our own opinion?

I do believe we should trust our instincts and we don’t need to automatically discount ourselves as so many in generations of the past did in deference to authority. I do not want us to consider going back to a bygone era. Educating ourselves and being knowledgeable are virtues, God gave us minds and hearts to discern. BUT God also gave us ears and neighbours so that we can hear each other and learn from each other. Assuming we can hear another and instantly know what is best for her/him is not only ridiculous it is dangerous. What gives us this arrogance? Humility is a gift, it keeps us open to the truth and it removes the constant frustration that “they” aren’t listening to me. Perhaps, just perhaps, it is the other way around.