The humble self

Something Beth and I talked about a little bit this afternoon.

Some folks are smug and arrogant — that’s annoying. I’ve done that.

Some folks err in the other direction, with insecurity needing constant reassurance and bolstering — and I’ve done that, too. I’ve fairly recently (in the last five years or so) realized that being excessively fearful is just as annoying as being excessively certain.

Some folks are overtly humble, deflecting everything good to the praise of God, and taking blame for anything bad. This is also annoying. It’s a little harder to articulate why it’s annoying. Is it because we know no one really thoroughly believes they can take no credit for any part of anything good? They may believe it in theory, but do they believe it in the deepest hidden places of their heart? Don’t they mutter to themselves, perhaps secretly, “I saw my hands move, I heard the words come out of my mouth,” and so see themselves as participants in this work of God? Don’t they also wonder, from time to time, why all the bad stuff is their fault and all the good stuff is God’s? Is there a way to be humble, to acknowledge God’s ultimate sustenance and moving, while also acknowledging that our hands did indeed move and our mouths did indeed speak and our wills and desires and personalities were included?

The folks who seem most pleasant to be around are the ones who are comfortable in their own skins without being arrogant; fully-developed rich selves without a blighting self-centeredness, aware of the grace and glory of God in and all around them without feeling either threatened by God or in control of him. Not the ones who are trying hard to lose their lives on purpose, erasing any hint of selfhood. Not the ones who are trying hard to protect their lives, who are threatened by everything, because everything looks like it might encroach on their tiniest toe-hair.

I want to be one of those people, and it’s a little annoying that it doesn’t seem to be something I can obtain directly. In fact, it seems to be something that can only happen when I stop worrying about it. Which is annoying because what if I stop worrying but I don’t obtain it? What if I go from bad in one way to bad in some other way?

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2 thoughts on “The humble self

  1. I don’t think ANY of us bat a thousand in any of these areas. Most days, I’m lucky to be self-aware enough to even consider which of these categories I’m falling into! I think the fact that you are focusing on it is a ‘win’ in and of itself, because most of the rest of us (totally including myself here) just sleepwalk through our day without a thought to our motives, our arrogance, our humbleness, ect. 🙂

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