Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Healthy Dose of Humility

I'm going to come right out and say it. Growing up up in an abusive household doesn't make me special. If it did most of us would think pretty highly of ourselves. It surely doesn't entitle me to extra sympathy or special attention from anyone. To beat a tired, over-used phrase...'it is what it is.' By the grace of God, I have overcome so much and have grown to recognize that triumph out of tragedy is a recurring theme God has used since the dawn of time to show Himself great in this world. With humility, I will say that the course my life illustrates that attribute of God's character perfectly. Humility. Such an important word that is somewhat lacking in our modern discourse. It is a quality that I strive for in my own life but occasionally...I fall short. And by occasionally, of course I mean daily.

They didn't talk to me much about humility when I was growing up but I was put down and dismissed quite frequently. That is what I thought humility meant. To be humiliated. I knew that feeling quite well. I was raised by very self-centered, self serving people. I mean no disrespect when I say that. I'm just being honest. The adults in my life (my mom and step-dad mostly) seemed to believe that children were bothersome and intrusive and were annoyances to be dealt with in whatever manner they deemed appropriate to what their mood was at the time. This is not to say I was not loved. I was. They did the best they could, I suppose. My dad loved me very much. Just never seemed to be able to stick around for long periods at a time.

I'd describe my life growing up sort of like being in a climate where volatile and violent changes in the weather patterns would take place constantly. Hard to know how to gear up appropriately day by day. I became a human barometer. My internal dialogue became something like "Prepare for the worst, expect heavy weather and remember to really enjoy the sunshine while it lasts."  I became both self protective and fiercely protective of others around me. It also created an unhealthy tendency to crave peace at any price, the end result being self taught to become a chronic people pleaser. This looks like humility on the surface but is really selfishness In disguise. ie: (If I can keep everybody happy and ok, I will feel better and safe and will have some semblance of control over my own environment). I know. That's deep, isn't it?
Fortunately, God has placed people in my path along the way that helped me to discover that I was not living on a hostile planet, so to speak. Aunts, uncles, amazing and loving grandparents and great- grandparents, even parents of my friends, who lavished love on me and gave me a glimpse of what a peaceful, loving home should feel like. People who put the needs of others before their own. True humility. I was determined that when the time came, I would never settle for anything less for my own children. And I haven't settled. My children live in a peaceful (most days), loving and God-centered, spirit-filled home. We are not perfect. We are messy and we are extremely goofy. We work together but mostly play together. We pray together. We enjoy each other. We like to hang out in our pajamas and be lazy together. My family works. We are functional. That, in and of itself, is a triumph of great magnitude in my eyes. Humbling, to say the least.
As parents, sometimes we swing too far in the opposite direction of our pain and try to build up our kids' self esteem, (which I believe to be vitally important, by the way), and we try to protect their egos too much. I've been guilty of this. But in a society of swagger and celebrity worship and 'me-ism' I have been trying to redirect my children's focus from themselves and their own desires onto God and to the needs of others. This requires vigilance on my part and I have been praying for direction in this area. There are teachable moments around every corner. The challenge? Recognizing and making the most of them. On this, I'm not willing to settle, either. I tell my kids every single day as they get out of the car to go to school:

"God loves you and I love you. You can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens you. Now...go do great things with this day and be a blessing, not a burden to those God places in your path."

I get an occasional eyeroll and sometimes they say it along with me in a little sing-song voice but I don't let that stop me. I'm sowing precious seeds into this garden we call life and I intend to nurture them and care for them until we reap an amazing harvest. I declare our children will be mighty in the land. In order for that to take place, we must surrender, be obedient, trust in God's will for our lives and let our faith sustain us through the process. As for me and my house? We will serve the Lord. By His grace, we will serve him with a healthy dose of humility!

This verse says it all:

Philippians 2:3-11
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Speaking of teachable moments...we are watching The Bible series on the History Channel as a family. It has opened up incredible dialogue about so many biblical and general life topics. The kids even asked to watch it over again last night. I recommend this series (but not for younger viewers, as it has violent scenes, as you might expect) and we are all looking forward to upcoming episodes which air every Sunday night until the finale on Easter Sunday. My kids are getting out their Bibles to see what book the show is on and I've learned quite a bit myself. It is condensed, so we have to pause occasionally to get everyone up to speed, but overall it has been a great family experience so far. I'll share the link with you so you can get the details for yourselves.***



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