Have you ever had to eat Humble Pie….not very tasty is it? I am finding that aging is teaching me humility in big LARGE doses. What was once easy is quite difficult. What was once remembered is definitely forgotten. What I was once good at…now…not so much.
One incident comes to mind as the metaphor for all others. It involves one of my childhood memories, keeping in mind that all my memories may be a bit Walter Mitty-like as they take on a life of their own with the passage of time. That being said….
I played kickball in my elementary school years. With the best of my recollection, petite little-girl-me that I was at that time, dominated the game in our schoolyard field, and was the first chosen for any team. I was rather a tomboy that didn’t mind getting dirty and could kick that tater over the heads of the outfielders. I could pitch and catch with the best of them. Okay got that visual in your head?…pause…fast forward….
We were invited to spend Christmas dinner with my daughter-in law’s gregarious, wonderful family. As a bonus, they were going to have a kickball game after the midday meal. Are you kidding me!! Bring it on!!! I was SO ready for this one. Quickly, without thought (obviously!) I proclaimed myself to be the Kickball Queen! I neglected to add the pesky little detail words of …. former or elementary school or 50 years ago to my exuberant declaration of this royalty status. Thus….I was enthusiastically chosen. I mean, who wouldn’t want the Kickball Queen on their team, right? I was positively vibrating with excitement and ready to claim my title once again. My turn at the plate…. ready… set…. ball rolling….. drum roll please…….. aaaaaannddd…..face plant! Yep, missed the ball entirely with my foot and buried my nose in the pale winter ground of their front yard. The main thought going through my head in this prone position was … should I just lay here and pretend I’m dead? I think I could handle that more gracefully than getting up to face the crowd. Instead I started hysterically laughing. Was it better or worse to be known as the awkward, uncoordinated fabricator of abilities or a maniacal crazy person? I do not know the answer to that. I was fortunate that my performance was in front of a very forgiving crowd. I gave them the unexpected gift of a Christmas memory and it gave me a HUGE lesson in humility that will forever stick. Pride literally goeth before a fall!
This happened a while back but I’ve had much occasion to remember it, blush, reflect on it, blush, and use that lesson to remind me of a better course of action. So, Tree Star? Yes, please! It is not just bragging about a childhood memory. When I choose to elevate myself, my abilities, or my ideas in any arena above others, I am choosing me-centeredness. By doing this out of a place of pride, arrogance, conceit, or condescension, I am wide open for a reality check or a face plant. One of the fruits of the spirit that I aspire to acquiring is gentleness or in some translations, meekness. Both are a form of humility and putting others before self. Our culture may associate this fruit with weakness, especially when looking at the dictionary definitions and thinking about how our culture values power. It seems to me that it takes more strength of my character to put others first. I have a pretty good track record for making it all about me. Once again I discover that what may be the right course of action is counter intuitive to what the world sees. When I think about opportunities I’ve wasted by making something me-centric when I should have been humbled to serve others, I am thankful the Kickball Queen helped me to learn this valuable lesson in a very memorable way.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
~ Philippians 2: 3-4