A Humble Lesson in Humility

The Following is an excerpt from my forthcoming eBook titled: “Lessons from the Village…”

A Humble Lesson in Humility

I believe I am the most humble man in the world. In fact, I know of no one who has more humility than I do. Of course, there is something wrong with these statements. A person who truly possesses the quality of humility will not brag. However, humility is a characteristic worth noting. In my humble opinion, no greater virtue exists.

“Humility,” the English noun, derives from the Latin humilitatem (nom. humilitas) which means “lowness” or “insignificance.” The word “humble” comes from the Latin word humilis, meaning “lowly” or literally humus (of the earth).  In English, “humility” literally means the quality or condition of being humble.

We have all eaten humble pie a time or two. Some may refer to the act as eating crow – a disgusting scavenger bird for which it was a humiliation to eat. Rudyard Kipling illustrates this idea graphically in his story “The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes.” Surprisingly, humble pie actually comes to us from the term “umble” pie, a medieval meat tripe dish. Umbles are the inner parts of an animal (offals) such as the heart and liver, etc. – considered to be low-class victuals. Not much was needed to eventually put the “h” in front of it to have a nice punderful way of now saying “humble pie.” Isn’t that punny?

Much like Morrowbie Jukes, I found myself one day declaring something I would never do. My wife and I began our marriage in an extraordinary manner – financially anyway. We got married when she was 17 and I was 21. We somehow convinced her mother to sign the papers giving Jessica (my wife) the legal right to marry. Life was great for us, with many laughs. For instance, do you know how funny it was when we went out with friends and she was 19 years old? By then she was married and had a child, was attending college and managing a store, but she still could not enter certain restaurants! I was a lead person at a government-contracting facility with over 500 employees, and she was a dollar store manager. We were not yet 23 and had amassed more in cash than any couple we knew personally – $20,000 to be exact. No one had to tell us – we already knew we were rich.

We frequently made donations to the Goodwill Center and Salvation Army for tax purposes. I dreamed of one day handing out one of those big Ed McMahon checks to some lucky person or facility and appearing on the front page of the paper. Or maybe I would go somewhere and put on a fake hard hat, hold a shovel toward the ground, have my picture taken, and say that I broke ground helping with some new building project. I had pretty big dreams, huh? My britches were pretty tight, and my hats were a little small back then. Anyway, as I saw many of my friends getting clothes and other items from the Salvation Army or Goodwill Center (some of which I had even donated), I often wondered why they didn’t just become good, upstanding Christian citizens like my wife and me. We went to church, gave tithes and prayed, and Voila! God gave us money and positions because he wanted us good, upstanding Christians to be happy. Now if I had been a betting man at that point, I would have bet the bank account and house that such hubris would eventually get me into trouble – and it did.

My wife and I decided we had enough money in savings (the $20,000 bank account) for her to quit her job and begin nursing school full-time while I transferred to a part-time job. Life was still great…until one night our daughter got attacked by a dog. The attack was so horrible it left meat barely hanging on under her right eye socket, with visible bone showing. Her face required plastic surgery in at least three places. Without plastics getting involved, permanent scaring was inevitable. We told the doctors we wanted whatever it took in order to save our child, while affording her minimum scaring and a safe procedure. They in turn told us it would be $20,000 up front to begin the process! With all of our life savings drained, plus two new credit cards maxed out at $5,000 each, and my two new part-time jobs (making it three total), I realized something; I was now the one frequently going to the food shelter, Goodwill center, and Salvation Army myself in order to provide for my family. For the first time, I understood that life is no respecter of persons, and neither is God. It does in fact rain on the just and the unjust – just the same. During those times, my wife had to suspend school for a semester because someone had to hold our daughter throughout the whole night, for our daughter could not roll over against her face.

Now, I have learned to be thankful for both the good times and the bad ones. Furthermore, I cannot help but think of the Bible verse that reads, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 ESV) For this reason, I never miss a chance to eat a nice slice of humble pie. Either way you cut it, I also prefer mine with a lot of hummus on it to boot, and I believe that has much deeper, more nutritious roots in it than chickpeas!

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