What else can go wrong? I think as I get in the shower after exercising. I went to bed a mass of fears and didn’t wake up any better. No word on two interviews, AC out in the van with a major heat wave, spiritual crisis in another branch of the family tree, three different areas where major details forgotten by others have affected us, leadership in healing, economic news not promising…everywhere I turn my life is in turmoil. Looking with natural eyes is not helping me. What happens if the grant doesn’t come through and we have to dip into the end of our savings? What if these interviews don’t lead to offers? What if the AC can’t be fixed? What if we have to ask for help again? What if the economy gets worse? What if I have to put my kids in school? What if this silence from heaven continues? What if? What if?
For someone with control issues this is unsettling. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to know what’s going on. In the field of nursing, we have a practice of “anticipatory guidance.” We try to anticipate what’s going to happen and teach our patients how to recognize and deal with some symptom, reaction, pain or situation. It decreases people’s anxiety to send them home armed with information and a plan. I cannot anticipate and plan for a future, or even the present, that is so unknown and out of my control.
Our plans were shot down a year ago, and while we try to come up with
plan B plan C plan D any plan at all, it’s a hard path to walk. There’s something difficult and humiliating in saying “I don’t know” to the question “What are you going to do?” Why does this feel so humiliating? Because we’re supposed to know what’s going on and what will go on and be able to deal with it. That’s what responsible independent adults do in the world’s system, you know: see the problem and fix it. I can’t fix this. No one can. It is unfixable.
After my shower, I stumble through a reading from Jeremiah with no revelation or understanding at all, I simply give up, lay down and pray. “Lord, there’s a lot going on right now in our lives.” I recite my list of worries, uncertainties, upset plans. I simply ask for Him to open not any door, but the door. “Please show us the path we are to walk.” Nothing has changed in our circumstances in that second. Nothing. No job, no AC, no answers, no resolve to the crises of those around us. Not one thing has changed but the peace that Jesus promised comes: the Holy Spirit wraps me in it, and I nearly fall asleep in the peaceful moment. The spirit of humiliation leaves, with a meek and quiet spirit in its place. I exchanged my old yoke of fear, worry and humiliation; the Holy Spirit specially fitted me with a new yoke that will be an easier burden to bear–one lovingly made by His hands, with me in mind. A yoke whose burden will not break my back or spirit, but strengthen me for the journey ahead.
What is the difference, then, between humiliation and a humility? I think it’s the lenses with which we view our circumstances. Walking though my house, trying to find stuff to sell feels humiliating if I think “I can’t believe I have to sell more of my stuff” or it is a practice in humility if I ask the Lord to show me items to get rid of and say “Thank you Lord for providing these things and a way to sell them.” My perspective can be “I can’t believe I have to rely on someone else for x-y-z” or “The Lord is faithful to provide what we need!” I either wear the yoke of humiliation based on pride that is heavy and hard to bear, or I can choose the light and easy yoke offered by Jesus.
Humiliation comes when I’m focused on me, me and me. Humility comes when I focus on God. Humiliation is a pride issue. Humility is realizing that God would love someone like me, and I can do nothing without Him. Humiliation comes from the condemning words of the Deceiver and the ensuing misery and exhaustion they bring. Humility comes from the loving-kindness of the Father that leads to repentance, joy, and brings rest to our souls.
Like so many things in the Christian faith, humility is a practice. While it may be perfected instantly in someone, somewhere, it is not in me. It is a daily struggle to practice humility, a struggle I fail more often than not. Once again, a daily, if not hourly choice: a heavy yoke of humiliation and condemnation from Satan–who is described as having a proud heart and corrupted wisdom in Ezekiel 28:17– or the easy yoke from Jesus, who is gentle and humble in heart.