I’ve spent most of my life in what they might call “humble circumstances”. When we were children, my siblings and I watched Divine intervention provide for our family time and time again. My dad was out of work for quite a while, followed by a time of moving from temp job to temp job. My mom spent a lot of time praying (and she still does). I was a silent observer as she petitioned God, and then watched in wonder as boxes of clothes or bags of groceries or a card with money were left on our doorstep. God has always been good to us.
As a teen, I was in a horrible car accident. I had always been a straight-A student until that point. However, the injuries I sustained were catastrophic and left me with significant ongoing challenges and cognitive impairment. The journey of ongoing recovery and struggle has been a life-long lesson in humility and vulnerability.
Today, just two days after my 37th birthday, I sit and reflect on my current circumstances. I’ve really been struggling financially and find myself cutting back wherever I can. I’ve learned many budgeting and humble lifestyle lessons from both my mom and my nana. They raised families on shoe-string budgets, all the while instilling in them the value of family, contributing to community, and the importance of an old-fashioned, “give-it-your-all” work ethic.
So…here I sit, with my bus pass in hand, up and about a bit earlier than I may like, but ready to take on the day. I use my extra time to blog or plan my schedule. I’ve turned off my phone’s data, so I’ll post this blog when I get to a wifi connection again. As a couple, James and I are trying to plan and budget with food in a more efficient way, but of course that takes extra time and energy as well – time and energy that I just don’t have with my brain injury. It’s a tricky balance.
Humility is not just a lifestyle, but an attitude. It’s a manner of thought or approach. And, although I don’t have a problem with it in many ways (shopping at cheaper grocery stores, taking my car off the road and taking bus instead, learning to say sorry when I’ve wronged someone), I’m finding it very difficult in other areas.
Take my blended family, for instance. My partner and I do not parent the way his ex-wife does. In fact, our lifestyles in general and our overall approach to life are on completely opposite ends of a spectrum. This causes some especially challenging blended family and co-parenting issues. The humility required to stay quiet when I could otherwise comment, or to protect the child’s best interests rather than satisfy my own ego, is an exercise that I find extremely difficult at times. Of course, I am as diplomatic as I can be in these circumstances, but the stress of dealing with an ex who is less than amicable has been my greatest test in humility.
As a Christian I believe in loving others. This often takes a huge amount of effort when dealing with those who seem unlovable. It takes a lot of humility and grace to love someone who doesn’t love you back…and to be strong in my convictions while being gentle in approach. These are really challenging life skills. I look toward things like yoga and cognitive bahvioural therapy to guide my mind and heart in these times. But I am not “there” yet by any means.
So, on this grey and gloomy day, I find myself turning inward and self-reflecting, considering ways in which my mind and heart can dwell more in the space of love instead of the place of bitterness and resentment (despite my physical, emotional, and financial circumstances).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
Wishing you all peace today.