Sunday, August 5, 2012
Over the past few weeks and months I've realized my deep need for humility. God has shown me my pride, and I'm constantly rediscovering how much I have to grow. Every time I think I'm getting better, I find myself getting proud of how far I think I've come. Then I realize this and I'm back to ground zero, proud of my own self-acclaimed humility!
This has happened countless times. Far too often I find myself judging people based on their spirituality, comparing them to myself, almost subconsciously telling myself I'm better based on certain “spiritual” things I do that make me a “better” follower of Jesus. I tithe more, I read my Bible a lot, I pray all the time, I know (at least part of) God's calling on my life, I've heard His voice, whatever. And while I know I'm not better, sometimes my brain still tells me lies, feeding my ever-hungry pride. I am so angry with myself for this pride I can't seem to shake, yet it never seems to be truly gone, popping back up when I least expect it, a little whisper in my head saying “I'm better, I don't do that, say that, look like that.” And, to be brutally, painfully, disgustingly honest, there's a little part of my head that also whispers, “Jesus loves you more because you don't do that, say that, or look like that.” I don't want to type those words. I don't want them on the page. I don't want to see them, acknowledge the existence of that horrid lie, that horrid thought, prancing quietly and stealthily through my sinful mind. But denying sin doesn't make it go away, in fact, denial simply feeds the fires of sin. So there's some of my sin. Take it or leave it. I hate it, I don't truly believe it, but there's that part of me that does, that part I'm begging for Jesus to free me from. And I know He has, I just have to have faith in His freedom.
In the past few weeks I've been reading through a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (by Peter Scazzero). It's been an eye-opening, mildly painful book that has shown me lots of issues I hadn't recognized/been willing to acknowledge/just hadn't known were there. Like counseling sessions. Sometimes you have to break more in order to truly heal.
So this one chapter was about humility and had this list of steps of humility called St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility →
Step 8: Transformed Into the Love of God
Step 7: Speaking Less
Step 6: Deeply Aware of Being “Chief of all Sinners”
Step 5: Radically Honest to Others About Our Weakness/Faults
Step 4: Patient to Accept the Difficulty of Others
Step 3: Willing to Subject Ourselves to the Direction of Others
Step 2: Doing God's Will (Not Our Own or Other People's)
Step 1: Fear of God and Mindfulness of Him
This list loudly informed me I am so far from humble that I've barely even crossed the start line, much less gotten anywhere even sort of near the finish line. Gosh-darnit. Just as I was getting all pumped for what God has shown me about my pride and how He has worked on my humility this week.
It's not a week-long fix. I want it to be. I want to recognize my sin, pray for a solution, and everything be fixed, fine, done, I'm a stronger, better, getting closer to actually being good and righteous, follower of Jesus. Not how it works! Often the process of eradicating sin from our lives is a process that spans months and years. More often than not it is a deeply painful, humbling, broken experience that we passionately hate all the way through, but then at the end we realize how incredible and freeing the experience was, we see how much our relationship with Jesus has grown, how much our faith has grown, and how much closer we are to our God, and we rejoice in hardship and suffering, for it produces perseverance, character, and hope (Romans).
So when I look at this list I realize just how much I suck at humility. When I look deep inside and am truly honest with myself, I'm either unable or unwilling to do some of the steps. There are a few shaky rungs I'm simply unwilling to step on for fear of falling, a fear I'm unwilling to give to God, unable to trust that He'll either allow the rungs to hold the substantial weight of my sin, or will catch me when I fall, or put me together when I hit the ground and break, or something, but He won't leave me shattered on the ground, nothing and no one.
I'm too afraid. One of my greatest failings. Afraid of not being seen as a good, strong Christian. Afraid of people seeing the real me, the me who gets grumpy and angry, who yells at her siblings, is selfish and prideful and self-centered. The broken, unworthy, undeserving, me. The me who isn't put together or always cheerful or loving. The me I don't want to be.
Why so afraid?
I'm afraid people won't want me, won't like me, will see me as nothing more than my sin and brokenness.
Why do I care so much? Why do I put so much stock in the opinions of others?
I know the truth that I am loved, wanted, and accepted by Jesus despite my utter worthlessness, sin, and complete brokenness, but I'm still afraid. Seeking approval and worth at the hands of others, putting more stock in their perception of me than Jesus' unconditional love.
I want to be freed from that, but at the same time I almost don't, because then I'll have to be open, truthful, vulnerable. I'll have to let people see me, bare my naked soul, and let them decide, no more hiding behind my facades of being put together and happily following Jesus without a struggle or fear. Like not wearing makeup. I know I'll never be seen the same once I've been seen without my defenses and coverings.
I desperately want to think of myself as the “Chief of All Sinners,” but my pride tells me, “There are others out there who have sinned far more and far worse than you ever have or probably ever will, you aren't that bad.” But I am that bad! Yet my pride fights with myself, like Tyler Durden and the narrator’s fight in Fight Club, really just a fight against self, pride punching myself in the face, breaking my nose, blood pouring out, fighting the truth and telling myself I'm okay, I'm not as broken or sinful as that person, I haven't sinned in that way or that much. I'm okay.
It doesn't matter in what manner I have sinned, it's all the same! The point is that I am broken, sinful, beyond any human form of repair and simply desperately in need of a beautiful savior and the freedom of His love and grace. And I want to know the depth of my brokenness, to understand my absolute inability to save myself, for only then can I truly begin to grasp God's goodness, mercy, and love. Only then can I understand there is no hope for me outside of His grace.
I want to know I'm the Chief of All Sinners, to know that with all my being, and be so rooted and grounded in Jesus that I don't care who knows. Then I can be Radically Honest About My Faults/Weaknesses. I be humbly open and honest and vulnerable about my sin and brokenness with no ulterior motive of impressing people with how in touch I am with my brokenness (you can be prideful about your brokenness, pride can poison anything and everything). I fall into that trap far too often. No.
I want to be broken for God and God alone, without a thought, purpose, or motive other than simply being honest about who I am – a sinner. Broken beyond repair, hope found only in the beautiful, freeing blood of Jesus Christ.