A lesson in humility
I recently spoke with a gentleman who had been arrested for a crime that ended up being widely publicized on TV and in all of the local papers.
The event left him broken, embarrassed and extremely remorseful; especially when he thought about how the crime and publicity would affect his family and his church.
In the days following his arrest, when the dust finally began to settle, the thing that really struck me about this man was not so much the crime that he committed, but more about how he handled himself afterward.
Too often, people fail to take responsibility for their actions and will instead try to blame someone else or some previous life event that "made" them do it.
This gentleman made a public apology on Facebook and then went to his church and in front of the entire congregation, humbled himself, apologized and asked for forgiveness as he openly wept.
I thought that it took tremendous courage for him to stand up in front of all those people, risk judgment and ridicule and still remain ready and accepting of whatever lot was to be dealt to him as a result.
I don't know if I would have been able to do it. I think my fear and my shame would have kept me a prisoner in my own home or would have forced me to move out of the area.
Author Criss Jami said, "To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength."
In one of the conversations with my friend, I learned that he has (of his own volition) sought help for his problem so that he would never have to walk down that path again.
How refreshing would it be if we were all able to put aside our foolish pride, admit when we are wrong and then take the necessary steps to facilitate change?
Instead we puff ourselves up, cling to our sense of entitlement and try to justify our wrong behaviors in one way or another.
We take the easy way out because making ourselves accountable for our own behavior forces us to remove the mask that we wear day after day and show the world who we really are, and quite often, that isn't a very pretty picture.
Humility, however, is the catalyst for change.
Humility isn't to be confused with humiliation.
Humiliation is someone doing something to make you look and feel small, so they can appear to be big.
Humility, however, is a conscious decision to allow yourself to become small, for the benefit of the bigger picture.
One need not look very far to see where the practice of humility could create a catalyst for change.
A quick glimpse in the mirror reveals the need of a sprinkle or 10 of humility from time to time.
Reading or watching the news reveals the need of a torrential downpouring of it.
I am anxious to watch the continued growth and changes in my friend as he works his way past his transgressions and moves forward in his life.
I am also thankful for what he has unknowingly taught me during the process.
In closing, I would like to leave you with the following thought from Lao Tzu: "I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men."