I’ve been humbled a lot lately. No doubt it’s a helpful remedy for my often prideful sense of self-sufficiency. I suffer from an “I’ve got this” spirit or “I can fix that” one. Different sides of the same coin. Both are rooted in thinking I’m better than I am.
This “self-sufficiency spirit” makes me want to be right when I’m wrong. and it leads me into behavior that is not rooted in who I am when I’m my best self, which is when I live in agreement with God. This living suggests that I’m all sufficient in and of myself. So, it’s necessary when I’m struggling from pride and ego, whether it’s arrogance or desperation, that I apply the remedy – which is always humility. And humility comes in a variety of postures.
Most recently it has come in the simple acknowledgment of my inability to change things. For the recovery crowd you will recognize this from the serenity prayer, “the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s not just a knowing what I cannot change or an acknowledgment that I can’t change some things/people/situations etc. … it’s an acceptance. And to accept things that you can’t change that you want to change, well, that requires (big gulp here) humility. Humility comes as an honest look at your own insufficiency and a willingness to let go of things. And even better than that, for me, it is the spiritual practice of giving those things, people, situations, that I WANT to change and WISH would change and seriously SHOULD change, over to God – Who, if I’m honest and humble, I can admit is much better qualified to handle them anyway.
This humbling has resulting in letting go a lot recently. I’ll share a few areas of this process that might be helpful for those of you who are on this beautiful path of freedom.
1. Letting go of the future. Trying to control the future is like holding water in your hands. Impossible. God reminds us of this in His word A LOT. He emphasizes over and over and over again the importance of a “just for today” posture. A daily practice of putting God in charge of all the things I cannot control. The future is by definition completely out of my control. Yours too. Perhaps it’s time to let go of what you can’t control. Surely as we learn to practice the letting go of what is ahead of us it relieves us of fear, anxiety, dread, and that constant knot in your stomach that’s it up to you to figure things out.
2. Letting go of being right. I preached a sermon recently where I used a word from the Greek and explained it wrong. Someone emailed me and another person tweeted me. Both were right and I was wrong. And rather than explain it away or defend my position, or get angry with people who just couldn’t cut me some slack etc. … I had to let go of the fact that I “should be right” and just admit that I was wrong and try to correct it the next time. The humility of admitting I used the word wrong comes with the recognition that I need to be more careful and diligent in my prep work. The one correction led to many more corrections in my preparation process. If I’m honest and humble, it’s going to be helpful to my life. Once I get humble, I can let go of being right and learn something new.
3. Letting go of expectations. If you are like me you have a trajectory in your mind of how life will unfold. Maybe it’s because I’m a story-teller but I like a good narrative. And I have these in my own mind – already drafted – about my own life. People have these for me as well. How things are going to be, or “should” be. Expectations creep into our lives and become controllers of our decisions. Expectations (from yourself or from others) are often rooted in fear. And fear is rooted in ego. Think about this: What if you made all your life decisions with your fear and ego in their own rooms on a timeout? You don’t need an epic confrontation and kill your ego with a battle axe shouting “freedom” with your face painted blue. Just put them on a timeout in another part of your head/heart/house and make the decision that is the most exciting, faith-filled, God-inspired one. Once the decision is made, you let fear and ego out of their rooms. No doubt you’ll still hear them complain and whine about how they felt excluded from the decision and how terrible everything will be and what will people think etc. … but they would no longer be leading the process. It takes humility to let go of expectations and trust God with your life.
These are a few humility postures that I’ve been practicing that have reminded me of the terribly beautiful surrender that helps us live as children of God. As hard of a season as it’s been to learn and practice this humility in my everyday life, I’ve discovered that it’s also been the most faith-filled and exhilarating one. As I let go of things I can’t control, I am more and more able to trust God with my life and lean into what He has in mind for me today. It becomes much more of an adventure than a resistance training program. Think hike over a treadmill. It’s a refreshingly brisk unveiling of beauty. With every step I’m reminding myself, but for the grace of God go I, and I’m grateful.