Humility – being right sized.
Sometimes I lack humility! Before we talk about humility, it‘s important to define the word. Humility is often misunderstood to mean humiliation, but it doesn’t mean that. Humiliation is a negative term. It means, “an emotion felt by someone whose social status has been reduced.” Humility, however, is a powerful term meaning an honest assessment of one’s own importance or rank. These are two different attributes – with different outcomes. There is a powerful healing that comes from cultivating the characteristic of humility.
As a clergy person, I am in charge of running a congregation. I made an announcement at a board meeting. I had had discussions with other area clergy about reopening houses of worship. I suggested, at the board meeting, that we consider not reopening our building at this time. The shock was so great that I got a comment, “That is not your decision to make.”
I must confess that I was angry! I went through the myriad of emotions and even wanted to lash out and say a few things I may have regretted. When such surges of emotion arise, I know that I must pause. I cannot:
b) hit the reply all button or
c) take any action in an agitated state.
Because I will certainly regret it later!
In the book, “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz, https://www.miguelruiz.com/
the second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.” I invoked this teaching and was able to separate my feelings from what was really happening. I was able to pause and reflect. What was the issue? Were they challenging my power and authority? Was I angry that someone wanted to put my life in harm’s way so they could have a worship service? By not taking it personally, I was able to see this was not about me! (Shock, right?) It took prayer, writing and reflection for me to see that the actual issue was GRIEF!
Once again, grief reared its ugly head and caused trouble. When I clearly saw the issue, I was able to resolve it with the committee members in a positive and healing manner.
However, I needed the proper amount of humility to do so. At our meeting last night, I began with the honest acknowledgment that I had missed the mark. I shared that when my children learned the difficult news that there would be no summer camp, it took them a few days to mourn. They just needed that space to be shocked and then to equalize their emotions. I suggested to the committee that I had missed the need to let them sit with the information and grieve this new reality. I had missed that there is a necessity to letting people process their feelings.
By practicing humility and having the grace to allow myself to have missed this step, what followed was great healing. Members shared their disappointment about the decision, they grappled with this new information, and they moved forward together with mutual support. Had I dug in my heels and insisted that I was right, there not only would have been great pushback, but there would be no great triumph in that win. I wrote about how we cause our own pain when we insist on being right. https://rabbicosnowsky.com/the-new-addiction-the-need-to-be-right/
Like the victor who only seems to win, we can either be right, or we can be free.
Humility sets us free because we lose our need to be right and we make space for grace and healing to occur. This is a powerful combination that can bring peace to our souls.
My friend called me last week about whether or not she should pursue a legal battle. Certainly she had a chance of winning were she to do so. Many of us who have been engaged in the legal system know that it is an arduous journey. Did she really want that fight? What would she win? The right to be right? In the end she chose to be free and her soul was able to begin the healing process.
I cannot underestimate the powerful healing that comes with having humility and grace in any situation. I would love to hear your comment about your experiences with humility and grace as well!