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Daily Devotional: The Object of Humility

April 10, 2016

One of the most quoted scriptures is Peter 5:6 “Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” As a young Christian, I understood the process of humility as simply being the way we talk to others or projecting a modest disposition, but life eventually taught me a valuable lesson on this concept.


I’ve not only learn how to humble myself, but I’ve unfortunately been humbled by the circumstance of life, those experiences have made me who I am today.


Some people might think it a bit eccentric of me, but I’ve adopted a little reminder to help me keep things in perspective. While finishing college I worked for a number of years as a custodian cleaning office buildings at night, even working at the hospital. We had a work uniform which was a basic Dickie shirt and pants combo. I hated that uniform because everyone in the building knew what department I worked in and basically treated you accordingly.


I was able to humble myself and dare to believe that while I was cleaning toilets and floors I was earning an education that was going to provide for my family in the near future. It didn’t happen overnight, in fact, it took a bit longer than my wife and I had anticipated, but when I eventually got my foot in the proverbial door in the field of Therapy I took with me a number of lessons that the experience taught  me.


What was my eccentric, quirky reminder I used to motivate myself? I kept my Dickie shirt and even wore it the day I got hired in my first job in the field! (yes, it was clean! lol). I bought several different colors and I still wear them all these years later as I work as a Therapist. Call it eccentric, goofy, or perhaps tacky, but for me it is a reminder of what I went through and it helps me to stay grounded in the reality of who I am and where I came from.


Just the other day I ran into an old friend who I worked with a while ago and as we briefly got caught up he let me know that he had been hearing about how my career and financial circumstances had changed dramatically over the recent years. As we were departing he made a reference to my car being new and he made a comment about me making “the big leagues” and almost without hesitation I tried to shut that notion down, not out of some insincere attempt at feigning humility, but by using my all important memory and using the object lesson of what I went through to help me be where and who I am today.


I’m rather comfortable in being myself, when I find myself in a circumstance in which people either knowingly or unknowingly bestow too much praise or unnecessary accolades upon me I find myself mentally and figuratively withdrawing into that space in my head in which I regulate what is real vs. what is ego or imaginary and within a few seconds I am once again reminded of who I am and the image of myself I choose to project to the world.


I recall an argument I had with a close family member during a critical time in my life years ago. My graduation coincided with an economic recession and hiring freezes and unemployment rates escalated just as I was trying to start my professional career! No work history in my field of study and not many prospects I found myself assessing my options as I made the mistake of sharing my feelings with a family member. I was told that I might need to abandon my lofty goals of working as a Therapist and settle for working at McDonald’s for a while because as it was put to me “there were tons of people with more education/experience than me who were out of work and settling for much less!”


The statement was indeed true, but the sentiment behind it was misplaced because this family member was trying to suggest to me that I was reaching past my limits and I needed to learn how to humble myself because I had perhaps “dreamed too big” by wishing to become a professional in the field of Psychology. They actually told me to learn how to humble myself!


I felt betrayed, even as if I had been kicked in the gut with that notion. I mustered up enough resolve to say “I’ve worked myself through college by working as a custodian cleaning shit out of toilets and having people talk down to me, I can write a book on humility!” I could have died the day my mother who is one of the people I cherish most in this world spoke those harsh words to me! That painful encounter didn’t kill my dream, but it ironically strengthened my resolve and when my season finally arrived I seized  my opportunity.


Today I work in the very field that at one time seemed that I would never be able to break into. I’ve seen people in these situations allow the circumstances to affect how they carry themselves, especially when they feel as if people may have doubted them, but I use all the good and bad memories of that time to keep things in their proper perspective. I’m not a humble person because I am so spiritual or righteous, but because God gave me the grace to deal with each circumstance in my life. My quirky reminder is just a subtle way of keeping myself not only grounded but remembering to be that same selfless, optimistic person I’ve tried to be from the very beginning. Humility has been forever ingrained into my character thanks to that excruciating, refreshing, yet painfully enlightening experience.

When people express to me today about how effective I am at my job or how down to earth they believe me to be it is a direct result of the lessons I learned through those experiences, humility is a virtue that more people should endeavor to acquire.

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