A Tough Lesson in Humility

“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

There is a man I know, who is a good man, and well liked by family and friends. He is a carpenter by trade and likes to tell how he once could throw 80 pounds over his shoulder and then climb a ladder to the roof. When I first met him, about six years ago, he was strong and healthy, helping me out by maneuvering the rototiller around my garden with impressive ease.

About three years ago he began an introspection of his own character and decided that he was lacking in humility. Stubborn and prideful he would accept help from no one. Living alone in the woods with his tools, his red hen pecking around the garden and his carpenter shop overlooking the river below, life was good and no one could tell him otherwise.

Then one day he prayed that he might learn humility.  He asked for a lesson that would allow him to release his arrogance and independence and that this might make him a better person. When nothing immediately materialized in response to his prayer, he forgot about it and went on with his life. Except something began to happen to his body and over the course of days, weeks and months he slowly lost feeling in his legs and feet, so that walking and balance became more and more difficult. Finally, and after much persuading, he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with diabetes complicated by Lyme disease. — a brutal and crippling assault on his immune system that has left him dependent on family and friends to survive.

“I’ve had a lot of time now to think,” he recently told me, “and that I asked for this lesson. ‘Course I didn’t expect it would come in the form that it did, but otherwise I never would have known the absolute unconditional love that has come into my life. And that I would accept people’s help! I have been humbled, not so much by the disease itself, but by the outpouring of love from those around me.”

Some may think that this was a harsh lesson to call upon yourself, so I called to ask if he thought the lesson was worth what he is now going through. And he told me, “Yes! Because, what is really showing up is this incredible trust and generosity. Some people have put out large sums of money to save my home, without even asking for anything in return. It is a throw back to the old days when your handshake or your word was good enough, that you would do anything on the up and up. I am humbled by how people are not asking for payback, they just want to help.”

I suggest that his lesson in humility is providing others with the opportunity to become better people. “And that is the other side of the coin. You can look at either side and see it as an opportunity or a loss. When I look at my pride, honor and dignity, I see that the key to breaking those apart is you need humility. That is your “Get out of jail card.” I am inspired by great men such as, Mandela and Gandhi who had the power to motivate people and chose a humble role of sacrifice in order to change people. I’m not saying that is what I have done, only that people have responded to my situation with so much trust and honesty. It’s a beautiful thing, Delia, a beautiful thing.”

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76 comments

Anand YNI
Anand Y N I4 years ago

In the 66th Verse of the XVIII Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna,

"Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah", meaning,

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear".

Anyway, one can worship one's own God or demigod as told in the 21st Verse of the VII Chapter,

Yo Yo Yam Yam Tanum Bhaktah Shradhayarchitumichhati: Tasya Tsyachalam Shradham Tameva Vidadhamyaham, meaning,

"I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship some demigod, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to that particular deity".

The message is, worship whomsoever you like, but be humble and do your deeds selflessly.

Suzanne Loewen

Tough lesson.

Sam M.
Sam E M.4 years ago

He is lucky to have found many willing people ready to give a helping hand, to surround him with love and happiness. Sadly, not everyone in his situation would be so fortunate, but it's an uplifting story in this case. His spirit has gained in strength what his body has lost.

Dianna B.
D B.4 years ago

So many ways to read this account. I knew someone once who prayed for patience and was rewarded with many frustrating encounters. There's always more than one way to look at something.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

thank you

Kathleen L.
Kathleen L.4 years ago

So, a cosmic force took away this man's health and livelihood to teach him humility? It was just coincidental because he worked in the woods with lyme bearing ticks and may have been genetically prone diabetes-- maybe he ate only processed food. But, I don't think the universe did this to him. I'm sure he learned humility-- but working at a soup kitchen or on a children's AIDS ward can do the same thing-- without chalking this up to some warped divine force.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thanks for the information

Sue H.
Sue H.4 years ago

This could also be a "be careful what you ask for" lesson ??

Santanita G.
Santanita G.4 years ago

thanks

Angie Karan
Angie Karan4 years ago

Where would we be without humility? Humility opens the door to wisdom and intuition. It makes it possible for us to change, and to grow. If we realize we have believed a lie, for example, or our attitude to someone was wrong — we can change. Humility makes it possible to find meaning and wholeness.