Friday, December 8, 2023

A Humble Spirit

We must live lives that are interruptable, open to the Spirit's leading. We must live with open hands, not hands-off. But above all else, the most important posture we can take toward life is to live it with a humble spirit. 

This may strike you as laughable coming from someone like me - and you wouldn't be the first to laugh. I have spent most of my life standing on that line where passionate meets arrogant, and most folks who meet me tend to lean toward the latter, at least initially. I have been told repeatedly over the course of many years what an arrogant individual I am. 

Until someone gets to actually talking with me and discovers that's not it. at. all. 

I am a passionate individual. I have a high sense of justice. I, like everyone else, am prone to believe that the world would be a better place if everyone else had the same sense of the world as I do. I see things, and then I can't un-see them without a great deal of effort, which I am sometimes more able or willing to put in than other times. I naturally assume, when I start speaking, that things are just as clear to everyone else as they are to me. I like to believe that if others could see what I see, could understand the data that I'm working from, they would of course come to the same conclusions that I have. (And honestly, most of my "conclusions" are less conclusion and more excited-talking-out-loud-while-processing.) 

The truth about me, at the core of my being, is that I am driven by this passion. And this passion is fueled by love. I honestly want what's best for everyone. I honestly have goodness in mind. Justice. Grace. Hope. Mercy. Love. 

On the other side of this, there's a double edge - and it's that anyone who doesn't think I'm arrogant thinks I'm extremely naive. It's because the way that I see the world, I don't feel any obligation to engage with all of it. I don't see myself as required to participate with "the way things work" or to even assume that's how it has to be. I believe in bigger things. In better things. Because it's the way I want to live my life, I'm able to choose to live that way even when it doesn't look like it works out. 

Then, the world looks at me and laughs. Naive little girl (who is almost 40, by the way). When will she ever learn? 

Oh, I've learned. I just don't buy it. There's a difference. When the world thinks it's walking all over me, it's actually that I have simply stepped out of the way. 

So on one hand, I am driven by my passion for better things, for God's vision of the world, and that makes me come off as arrogant sometimes and on the other hand, the very same passion paints me as naive for believing it's even possible. Thus, I spend most of my life misunderstood, mislabeled, and written off. 

But the truth of the matter, as anyone who has taken the time to talk with me has discovered, is that it all comes from a humble spirit. I am genuinely thinking not about myself, but about others. I am honestly engaged with what I believe are God's things, not my things. And I am brutally honest about saying that I don't know a lot of things, but I enjoy throwing a lot of ideas around. That all gets sucked up and lost in passion sometimes - okay, more often than I really like - but...I'm working on it. 

I'm working on it because that humble spirit is the most fundamental thing about our lives together. It takes a humble spirit to truly engage anything - an arrogant spirit dominates and a naive spirit detaches, but a humble spirit is free to engage. It takes a humble spirit to talk with someone, to open yourself to information that isn't naturally on your own radar, to see a different perspective, to defend your own, to shape your thinking, to guide your love. It takes a humble spirit to listen...and listening is something our world has gotten really bad at. Really bad. 

Most of us have forgotten, even, how to listen to God. And that's where it all starts. 

Actually, I think the things we've talked about for the past two days go a long way toward helping us to nurture a humble spirit - I think when we're interruptable and living with open hands, we can't help but be more humble than we would be living any other way. Learning to listen to God and live oriented toward Him helps us to learn to listen to others and live outwardly oriented. 

I'm working on this every day. Some days...go better than others. 

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