Monday, April 13, 2015

Growing in Humility

Lately, God has put it on my heart that I am not as humble as he wants me to be. I know it sounds like false humility to say it out loud (or in writing, as the case may be), but I really think it’s true.

I have been reflecting on it a lot lately. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but I think that because humility is a virtue, it can be learned and practiced until it becomes a part of who you are, and hard to remove.

It is often easier to recognize a fault in oneself than to discover what to do about it. I have been struggling somewhat to discover how to grow in humility.

There are two things I know that it does not mean:
  1. It does not mean that I should go out of my way to humiliate myself, or be ashamed of myself. (To humiliate oneself is to call attention to herself, and shame is pride in disguise.)
  2. It also does not mean that I should belittle my gifts or think less of them.
I do think that to grow in humility, we also need to work to root out our pride. I don’t think you can really do one without the other.

So how does one go about practicing real humility so that it becomes a part of who she is? I hadn’t the vaguest idea where to start, so I did some reading on the inter-web, and it seems like the first thing on everybody’s to-do list is to pray for the change, because you can’t hope to do it alone.

A quick Google search turned up a LOT of prayers for humility. Several articles I read suggested reading the Gospels and focusing on the humility of Christ.

Here are some of the prayers I found that might be helpful for you. Listen to God, and see what he tells you.

Litany of Humility
Act of Humility #1
Act of Humility #2
Prayer for Humility

In addition to these prayers, I have been assisted practically by several bloggers and writers who have posted their thoughts on the subject, and I’d encourage you to avail yourself of their wisdom. The first few are mostly concerned with recognizing pride, and the others have some practical steps to take to work on rooting it out.

17 Pieces of Humble Pie, by Erin Franco at Humble Handmaid

Know Thyself: St. Theresa of Avila on Humility by, Chelsea Houghton, on Catholic Stand

12 Steps Up the Mountain of Pride, According to St. Bernard of Clairveaux, by Msgr. Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington blog

12 More Steps: Out of Pride and into Humility, from St. Bernard by Msgr. Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington blog

Humility and Suffering, by Charlie Douglas at Integrated Catholic Life

I also found Mother Teresa’s 15 Points for Humility. There are loads of places to find them, and here is one more.
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.
I really like this list. Mother Teresa seems to break pride up into lots of different pieces, so I feel like I can focus my prayers and human efforts on only one aspect at a time. (You should see my to-do lists sometimes - they can get ridiculously itemized.)

Our culture fosters pride and vanity - about everything - our beauty, our accomplishments, and our abilities. We forget that we depend on God for these and even our most mundane of abilities - and we need to remember this and be thankful for them.

What about you? I’d really appreciate the benefit of your experiences. What would you point to for the building up of humility?

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