Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oh Lord, It's Hard to be Humble....

The topic at my home-group meeting last night was humility.

We said all the things about humility that you expect to hear at meetings. That it's not about being a doormat. That it's about being right-sized. That it's the opposite of pride.

We said it's our egos that get in the way of humility. And fear. And the walls we build around ourselves as protection to make ourselves look impenetrable and tough.

But here's the thing no one says: How does one get humble? What does one do, exactly?

Early in Al-Anon, I used to wonder that a lot. I knew I was a prideful. I wanted to be humble. I really did. In meetings I'd always admit that humility was something I needed to work on. I just didn't know how.

Last night made me think about what I'd learned since then.

Before Al-Anon, humility was something I got when life laid me low. Even before I believed in God, I could see that the difficult times I'd experienced ultimately served some purpose. Lying with my face in the mud, I'd wonder what lesson I was supposed to be learning.

Once, I remember thinking that I couldn't see what possible purpose my unhappiness would serve except to show me that life had been a little too good for a little too long. I'd gotten cocky. I thought I'd figured things out. This was a leveler intended to bring me down to size.

And it worked. I got a whole lot more compassion for people.

When I came to Al-Anon. That was the sum of my experience with humility.

In Al-Anon, no one said, "This is how you get humility." But they did say this:

Pray on your knees.

I fought this for a long time. What difference did it make if I prayed on my knees or on my head? Couldn't God hear my just as well?

But I was taught that we pray on our knees not for God's sake but for ours. Kneeling is the position of humility. I can't be defiant on my knees. I can't be a miss know-it-all. And if I can admit I don't know all the answers, I become teachable. I can accept the guidance of a higher power in my life.

That was lesson 1.

Lesson 2 came in working my fourth step. I came away from that with a whole new perspective on my life. I could see the times in my life that I was wrong. Where God was trying to steer me, but I insisted on doing things my way. I saw clearly the damaged I caused. That was humbling.

Then there was my ninth step. I had to go to people and admit I was wrong. Even the alcoholics and other people I felt had harmed me. I had to say those words. I. Was. Wrong. Humbling. Very. Humbling.

Service can be humbling, too. Especially when you see someone in truly dire circumstances walk through them with dignity and grace.

This is what I've learned about humility.

I've also learned you can loose it. Things can to too well for too long. I can still think I've got it all figured out.

I finished working the steps in June. My sponsor had said in about a month we'd start again, with another fourth step. Then she decided to put it off until my Al-Anon birthday in April. Meanwhile, I should settle in to my recovery.

And it's been great. It's given me the opportunity to explore different ways of being of service. But I realized last night that I'm losing my humility. Things have been going pretty well for me. I admit I've been feeling like I've got things figured out. I begin to think I've been running on my own steam and not the grace of God.

I think that's why I've been "off-kilter" as Garnet put it. Technobabe had me pegged. I got to a certain place in my recovery and got a little too comfortable.

I need to start working the steps again. I plan to tell my sponsor that I'm ready to start my next fourth step. This time, I'm want to get on my knees voluntarily. Before life puts me there.

Hubby and I are off to the land. No TV, no internet, so no posting. Meanwhile, take care my friends. I'll see you all in a few days.


  1. great post, kathy~ humility is so important, to consider our relationship with it. i've found in my life that too much humility can be as dangerous as too much pride seems to be. can lead you to discount yourself entirely, to feel utterly meek and small to a bad extent. can lead to too much self-doubt, leave you vulnerable to those who would take advantage, and unable to stand up for yourself or speak your mind. i think finding a balance between pride and humility is a good thing. to be humble enough to ask for help, to admit when we're wrong and don't know things, to admit our faults, all those things are so healthy and important. yet i also think we need to have some amount of pride, or a healthy level of confidence and self love.

    it sounds like you're taking good care of yourself paying attention to this issue. i especially like when you said you want to find your way to humility before life puts you there.

    wishing you well~

  2. Wow, wonderful post. So much of this is news to me. You've given me a lot to think about - more than I can take away in one reading.

    Enjoy your time away.

  3. For me, step four was such an eye opener and beginning of my getting healthy. And likewise, step nine was so much more than I thought it would be. I thought I would write some letters or call some people and make amends and all would be right in my world. Hah. I wrote and re-wrote and when I was being so honest and so humble finally the words had meaning and came from my heart. No expectations as to what to expect. No rewriting words so they would get it. Just from my heart. As it turned out, one daughter did not accept it and banished me and does not want me in her life or the lives of her children. I honor her wishes. I kept her letter and filed it away. I love her.

  4. For me, the basis of humility is knowing that I can't control everything. And, I seem to have to relearn that lesson daily.

  5. I feel that humility is the hardest and really only way to go. Arrogance comes before the fall. Life has tought me that that there is no room for arrogance, only for humility. Nobody knows what kind of hardship, disappointment, sorrow and pain could be just around the corner.

  6. Step 4 is huge! It is what helps us to see that we have patterns and connections that have woven throughout our lives, what is it that binds us to our egos and our fears.

    Great post!

  7. Take care you, too, my friend. Be well out there on the land.

  8. I like to take a breather between 4th steps!! Sometimes I know I'm right, sometimes I need to be more humble. I've found getting on my knees helps me figure out which one it is.

  9. What a beautiful heartfelt post..

    Now don't get conceited..or an ego on that compliment ..(only teasing..lol)..

    I do want to tell you I'm grateful for your blog; you are doing a service here to us... seriously.. I get a lot out of what you say.. it makes me think about things again and sometimes with more clarity than the last time I worked it out.

    Thank you. (hugs)

  10. Super enjoyed this candid sharing Kathy!,

    todd b.

  11. Very thoughtful post. Also made me think of what the opposite of humility is to me - pride - and how strong & sneaky pride can be, hidden in the motivation behind all sorts of things.
    Have a restful, peaceful couple of days away!
    God bless.

  12. "This time, I'm want to get on my knees voluntarily. Before life puts me there."

    For me naivety or ignorance has created a barrier to humility. I don't even know if I am humble. I once heard someone say that if you think you are humble, then you are not humble.

    Somehow I keep in the forefront of thought the recognition that there is NEVER going to be a conclusion to all of this, and I am ALWAYS in need of help. Parenting has been a great catalyst for humbling me to pray.

    Love the post as always - Back to basics : )!

  13. awesome post Kathy....hope you get soaked with new strength while away....Sarah