Friday, 1 February 2013

Humility? Not So Much.

My daughter suggested I write about humility, or what I thought humility is. Let's face it. I don't do humble all that well. In fact I barely do it at all. So how on earth can I have anything to say about humility. Well the reality of my disease is that it forces me to be humble, to ask for help, to accept my limitations. Is that humility? Well it certainly is humbling.

The word humility is actually based on the Latin root "humus" which means earth. So to be humble is to be grounded, low, or from the earth. The Christian view of humility is that it is tightly linked with temperance. Anyone who knows me knows I definitely don't do temperance, so that's out. I have been pulled kind of low these days but I still have my spirit. Yet I do see myself as well grounded, rooted in some fairly basic principles.

I believe in doing my best, in working hard to make things work, in doing things completely and completing things. This isn't always true, not an absolute. I fail. There are plenty of things I have started but not finished, plenty of times when I just didn't want to work or or make things work. On the other hand I can always strive to achieve those goals. So I have principles and I believe in things, but that doesn't always lead me to humility.

The toughest thing lately has been around my need for help. I have always been a strong fellow, capable and able to look after myself. I have looked after myself, and my family, for most of my life. Now I can't do that. I can't carry my own water. I am losing my ability to do for myself, drive for myself, care for myself. This is humbling, that's for sure.

It's not that needing help is a bad thing. Still, it hurts. It is difficult. Given my self-sufficiency this loss is a real blow to my ego and self-esteem. I can see this hurt and loss of self-esteem coming out sideways at times in destructive ways and in needy behaviours. I lash out, I am grumpy and quick to anger. I complain. Sometimes I pout and am petulant. I did all of this before ALS but it's amped up with the disease. Ultimately all of this is an expression of the emotional pain I deal with every day. I am definitely feeling humbler these days and a bit remorseful at times given the way I sometimes act out.

Maybe I should look at it from a more spiritual approach. Perhaps all this failing of my body helps me to remember that humility in spirit is what is most important. It could be that I am learning how to put aside my pride and reach out for help. I can say for sure that I am certainly having to trust in the kindness of others to get through my day. To admit my weakness, that is humbling.

Humility is hard to do and I am not good at it. Perhaps pride is my real problem.


  1. Dad, that is so deep and moving. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Oh my dear it is hard to be humble when both your parents did not do humble well. love Mom

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  4. None of us do humility well. It jabs right into the things we want to hold onto. Which is not to make light of the many humbling things happening to you, Richard - just to acknowledge humility is hard.
    Someone I know just posted this quote on facebook and I thought it was apt:
    'The humble are those who acknowledge their need to respond on God's terms.'
    -Mike Bickle