My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Psalm 34:2
One Sunday a few years ago I heard a priest give a homily that contained a line I will never forget. For weeks I wanted to prove his line wrong but I finally resigned myself to the fact that he was exactly right and I just didn’t want to believe it. He said, “The root of EVERY personal sin is our own selfish pride.”
At the time, I was quite sure I didn’t even have any of that! Looking back I realized that my selfish pride is precisely what allowed me to think that, so I set out on a journey to fix it! The opposite of selfish pride is obviously humility and that’s a lot harder. Humility can’t exist if we’re in the way and boy do I seem to get in the way a lot! I’m still on that journey; sometimes I only travel a few minutes before I trip over myself and have to try again. Trying to be humble is sort of exhausting!
During the past months I’ve had some really exciting opportunities and have been praying extra, extra hard to trade selfish pride for humility. I love it when I deliver a talk and get positive feedback and get a sense that His words spoken through me have touched a heart or two but then I have to say some extra prayers for humility because like Psalm 34 says, I need to boast in the Lord, not in the “Gospel according to Sheri.” The more speaking jobs I have the harder I pray for humility but this fall I also requested that He please be gentle with the lessons because I was trying so hard to get it right. He listened and the lessons in humility have been swift, direct and funny. God really does have a great sense of humor! Some of the lessons have been too funny to keep to myself so today I’d like to share three of my favorite lessons on humility from the Father who loves me so much!
A wise woman once told me to “be wary of occasions that require new clothes because they often test your humility.” At the time I had no ideas what that meant. Now I get it and I try to remember that I don’t need a new outfit for a big presentation, I have enough. I ignored that advice though and the day before I flew to Nebraska in September, I bought a new outfit. After I checked into my hotel I began to get ready for the event and realized I had packed black dress shoes to go with my skirt but I had packed two completely different shoes. No problem, I thought, I had some flats that would work but as I pulled the new three-piece outfit from my suitcase I realized that I had only packed two of the pieces. There wasn’t a scarf big enough to make up for the fact that I had forgotten my shirt! Well played, God…point taken, He made sure I traveled in khakis that day and it worked.
Lesson two happened the day I had given a talk and I was walking toward the auditorium to deliver a second talk and this sweet little woman was running behind me shouting my name and waving her arms. Bless her heart, I thought, she must really want to speak with me. I quickly said a prayer to the Holy Spirit so I would be ready to have a good conversation and offer whatever counsel or prayer she might be seeking. I stopped and smiled and asked how I could help and she said, “Oh I don’t need anything but I thought you’d like to know you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe before you walk onto the stage and talk to a couple thousand women. You’d look like a real nut if that happened.” Humility smack down right there in the hallway! Funny, God…really funny!
The last one was completely shocking and snapped me right to attention. Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking at a women’s conference and it was an incredibly positive and powerful event. I was still floating on the experience a few days later. Yesterday I had been asked to give a presentation at the Catholic Writers Guild retreat. It was a drizzly, windy fall day. After I loaded my hands with stuff for the presentation, I headed across the parking lot toward the building. I was feeling pretty confident and still a little jazzed up from the weekend when all of the sudden a giant wet leaf whipped off a branch and smacked me right in the face. The leaf was so huge and wet it actually stuck to my whole face. As I tried to peel it off I dropped one of my bags, tripped over it and fell down right in the middle of the parking lot. I popped back up so fast I’m sure I looked like I was simply practicing the Ninja moves the first-graders taught me at recess last week. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.) As I got to the glass entry door, I saw my reflection and noticed the wet leaf had smeared my mascara so bad I looked like a raccoon! Luckily I made it to the bathroom before anybody even saw me and fixed my face up, then humbly walked down the hall to the meeting room.
Father was right: humility is the key to heaven! I’m laughing as I type, realizing how lucky I am to be loved by a God who listens and responds to my prayers and failed attempts with great humor, perfect timing and never fails to provide a backup plan. He’s really something to boast about!
A Seed To Plant: Take Father’s homily line to prayer with you and pray with it for a few days. Take an inventory of your attitude and actions and see where God might be calling you to add a bit more humility to your days.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2015 Sheri Wohlfert
Image by utoplec via morguefile.com