"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are."
During my “college years” (the internship), I randomly met a girl at Barnes & Noble in Tyler, TX, who was a part of the same ministry I was interning for. I don’t know how we ended up there with a few other girls I didn’t know, but we all picked out a favorite book and sat in a corner to tell each other why it was a favorite. This girl picked “No Greater Love” by Mother Teresa. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know anything about Mother Teresa, except she was a nun who cared for the poor in India. I also didn’t know anything whatsoever about India, except “they worship cows”. But this girl radiated a humility I wanted, so I thought, “I am going to buy that book.” Buy it, I did. Read it, I did. At the end I was almost ready to join the Catholic church, and very ready to accept my fate as a wrinkly old lady in the nastiest slums earth had to offer.
Of course, this happened while I was on track for moving to Hollywood. Conflict of interest, you say? Yeah. But I wasn’t making any life decisions for a while… I was in the middle of those wretched years as a Christian college student, “burning” with passion for my savior, ready to “go to the ends of the earth” and eat slugs for Jesus. I don’t mean to mock these years, as they were a great gift from God, but they have been over for some time, and since I’ve realized that it was never helpful or necessary for me to promise or remind God I would lay down my life for Him if He would tell me where to go. It’s not that I didn’t mean it, it’s that I had a certain picture of what laying down my life looked like, and it just didn’t jive with who God is. It kind of took me years to fix that mess in my soul, but I would never change it. All good.
Back to Mother Teresa. This quote is from that book, No Greater Love. And, though I recognized it as something very special at the time, has now become much, much more important to me. It puts words to what I have felt was true for years, even though I haven’t lived it.
All this to say, there is nothing more strikingly beautiful to me in a person than humility. It’s something you have to hone your vision to see (“takes one to know one” sort of applies?), and down right fight for in your innermost being if you are ever to make progress. When I meditate on humility, I think of 1 Cor. 13, the love verses, and think I could easily substitute humility for the word love there. Humility is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, does not boast, keeps no record of wrongs… I mean, I don’t want to change scripture here or anything, but when you say love, people think of so many things. Obsession. Worship. Devotion. Physical closeness. Desire. Heart-shaped boxes and roses. More often than not, we think of ourselves, what we need. And that would not be untrue, just not the whole truth, and not the most important part. So, if I want to know what to do in a situation, I think, “The greatest of these is love. To love effectively, I must be humble. What do love and humility look like? Patience. Kindness. No envy. No boasting. No pride. No jealousy. Keeps no record of wrongs (very hard for us humans). Rejoice with the truth. Always protects. Always trust. Always hopes. Always perseveres. Proceed with humility, or you really can’t say you loved them. Love never fails.”
Another question I ask is why would we ever do anything but love and walk in humility? This quote sheds light on that, because we don’t know who the hell we are, and we think maybe this guy or that girl, or the masses, or our pastor can tell us? So we seek the instant approval of man, we fear their judgement, and we form our lives around what they socialize us to believe is good and right. But as the wise Mother put it, no praise or disgrace should touch you. Are there naysayers? God is my defender, so I can keep my mouth shut. I never have a call to get angry over criticism said about me, inside or out. I’m nothing without God. I can present their criticisms before Him, asking, “have I done wrong?” Remember that it is against God and God alone that we sin. Are there praisers? It’s neither here nor there. I can’t stand on anything good anyone says about me, only what my Father says about me. He is the only one who searches my heart where no human is capable of searching… He knows very well who I am and He still speaks well of me (and you), loves me, and humbly gave His life for mine.
Now if I could just remember this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of my days…