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.”