Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Things change. If you don't know that by now, you must not have been paying attention. All things change. We change. Life changes. Hearts change. It's the mark of human existence - growth. We are supposed to be more, do more, know more, love more today than we did yesterday. 

To accommodate this reality of human existence, God has given us this great tool called humility. Humility is the ability to admit when we are wrong, to confess our blind spots, to demonstrate our growth by apologizing, refocusing, reshaping, and moving on. Humility is our ability to acknowledge the limitations of our own being and abilities and to embrace our potential and new opportunities. 

Unfortunately, we live in a world where accepting and embracing growth is actually seen as a weakness. Where if we confess at all that we were wrong about anything, we open ourselves up to scrutiny about having been wrong about everything. We are not afforded the grace to grow; we are held accountable for every yesterday as if it will always be our today. 

In times like these, that puts us in quite a bind. 

The experts have had models to work from since this whole thing started. They have been crunching numbers the way that experts do, but as things actually play out, speculations become realities and the numbers change. Unfortunately, in a world where humility is weakness, the numbers are not allowed to change. We are seeing our experts double-down on numbers that just aren't playing out, kicking them down the road and insisting the numbers must still be right; the dates just must be wrong. 

They even told us themselves that all of the measures they were enacting were meant to change the numbers. Now, the numbers are changing and they tell us that the numbers can't really be changing all that much. They praise us for our efforts, but continue to hold to the same kinds of large numbers they've always held to. 

Because we live in a world where if things change, then those who spoke early must be wrong. If they were wrong once, they are wrong now, and why should we even listen to them any more? 

It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, even if they tell us that our response is what has changed the numbers, many will cry out and say their numbers were wrong. Just look at our new numbers, and you'll see that the old numbers were wrong. They were wrong then; they are wrong now. These experts are not to be trusted. On the other hand, the longer they insist that their numbers were right and are unchanging, even in the face of new data, the more wrong they actually become. If they are wrong now, they must have been wrong then. These experts are not to be trusted. 

In my own state, the numbers have been consistently falling for five days. Yet we daily hear our experts holding onto their numbers, insisting the "peak" is coming next month, after the stay-at-home orders are supposed to be lifted. They are pushing to keep these orders in place for another month, even though the numbers are right now steadily declining. If the numbers decline all the way through the next two weeks, these experts right now look as though they will continue to say that the peak is still a few weeks away. That all of a sudden, completely out of nowhere, we're going to spike. 

It's really a no-win for them. Without the humility to embrace growth and change, they have no choice but to lock in on their models and push them as long as they can. Without our willingness to offer them humility as an option, they have to insist on their rightness. They have to constantly defend themselves. 

But it's also a no-win for us. Without the humility to embrace growth and change, to admit that something could be right yesterday and change today, we have no choice but to submit our lives to the authority of those that we refuse to allow to let go of their models. If we cannot be humble enough to allow them some humility, we're stuck in a stalemate - they have to prove they were right, and we have to make them prove they were right. If they don't, if we don't, then we are unlikely to ever trust our authorities again...on anything. 

It's because we've locked ourselves into such rigid categories of right and wrong. We expect our authorities not to speak until they have all the facts, until what they are going to say is absolutely true. Despite the struggles we have with truth, with any truth being 'absolute,' we have a surprisingly small (almost nil) amount of grace for truth that changes. We have almost zero tolerance for growth. Just look at the way that we hold persons accountable for things they said forty, fifty years ago in a different time in a different place. Whoever you once were, that's who you always are. 

I don't think it's a fault of arrogance. I really don't. I think a lot of our leaders are more humble than they are willing to admit. I think a lot of our experts right now would be ready to embrace new models, to start changing their tune as the data changes. To start moving forward with new numbers, with truth that is developing in real time. I think a lot of us recognize how we have changed over time, and how those we love (and those we hate) have changed, too. 

It's just that we, as a society, have so little tolerance for humility. It's not a virtue; it's a weakness. We have created a society where it is impossible for anyone to change, for anyone to grow; we simply don't afford them that grace - even while we shout from the rooftops that we, ourselves, are not today the same person that we were yesterday. It doesn't matter. We aren't afforded that grace, either. 

Until and unless we're willing to embrace humility again, we are stuck in a no-win situation. Not just with the big things that are going on in the world, but with every little thing that marks who we are, who we want to be, and who we are becoming.

Things change. Life changes. We change. Humility is an essential part of growth because it allows us to recognize and confess the way things, the way life, the way we change without pretending. Humility makes it so that we don't have to double-down; we can grow up. Like we were always meant to do. 

So let's have a little grace for the humble. And a little humble grace for ourselves. 

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