Every great religion has had a form of the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” It seems easy doesn’t it? If everyone were to follow this rule, the world would be a happy place full of rainbows and smiles and nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings right? Well, not necessarily so. People would be a lot nicer to one another, but we’re all so different and we all want to be treated in different ways. Someone who is blunt and honest would rather be told straight up what they’re doing wrong, where if you were to do that to someone with a softer personality, you will probably end up drowning in a puddle of their tears. I’m not trying to say that this teaching is wrong, I’m just saying there are other factors which come into play.
So let’s look at what Jesus said when the Pharisees tried to trick Him by asking which the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” That brought it back to my favorite of all topics LOVE - but I already wrote a blog about that for ya’all. This left me stumped on what to write about, but then I went to Mass, where I seem to find all the answers to my small woes. On Holy Thursday, I was sitting through the washing of the feet and the priest was giving a homily on Humility. The way he put it, humility is the potting soil in which love can grow! YES! I get to write to you about two of my favorite topics: love and humility!
Let’s focus on humility first. When some people think of humility, they tend to picture a meek, innocent little girl who is constantly placing herself down in order to praise someone else. That is not entirely accurate. Yes, humility is placing the thoughts and needs of others before your own, but that doesn’t mean letting their negative thoughts influence you or placing yourself down from theviewpoint of confidence. Luckily, if we ever get confused on the definition of humility, all we have to do is open up the Bible. Jesus is the perfect example of humility. He literally loved us so much that He was willing to take on our sinful form and give us back our likeness to God. Then, as an even greater act of love for us, He took on the punishment for our sins (just a reminder - He had none). Through every lash of the whip and every jeering comment from the crowd, not once did He turn around and remind us this was for our salvation. He didn’t put down the cross and walk away, knowing that He was perfect and didn’t deserve this, He didn’t even think it. Instead, He followed God’s will for Him, and then as we drove nails in His hands and feet and lifted the cross, He asked for the forgiveness of all the wrongs done to Him. Because even though we tormented Him, He acknowledged that, we “know not what [we’ve] done.”
You’ll probably notice that I switched out the them for we. Yeah, it hurts to think about, but the crazy Jews weren’t the only ones who lashed the whip that cut Jesus’ flesh to ribbons, we’ve done it too. I think too often we forget about how we play our sins on repeat, to the point that it becomes like one of those terrible raps you can find on youtube that are all techno like. We get tired of repeating it to our confessor and even slightly embarrassed that we’re back again for the same thing. It’s exhausting, and sometimes we just don’t want to do it, kind of like how Jesus spent hours in the Garden praying that this cup passes from Him. But in the end we know God wants our unity with Him, so like Jesus we take up the cross and come back for forgiveness. That’s humility in our love for God, which is first on the list of importance. It’s giving up our own pride and confessing so we can have that great relationship with Him again. Humility with God is giving up our own plan for our life and allowing God to work His instead. It’s accepting that God knows us better then we know ourselves and knowing that His plan for us can bring us greater joy and happiness then anything we can even imagine.
So that’s humility to God, which is first, but what about humility and love to our neighbor? Well, once again, God came through to me in a homily. This time Father spoke of what a humble man looks like and instead of using Jesus as an example, he decided on a more achievable figure for most, and quoted C.S. Lewis. Here he describes a humble man,
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
I personally think this is a lot easier to understand. Have you ever talked to someone and just felt that they truly cared about what you had to say? They didn’t just listen to your initial complaint or story, but asked for details as well. They wanted to know how it made you personally feel and what you were thinking about. They truly cared about how the event turned out and they just made you feel like you had been heard. I bet you felt loved when the conversation finally ended! This person never seems to complain, or if they do, they incredibly always have a positive spin to it. It’s like nothing can sink their boat, they were made to float.
This person is probably not caught in the bubble of self. That is my own creation. About a year ago, I began to notice a pattern in my life, when I was thinking about myself, I tended to feel worse, but if I simply thought about something or someone else (in a positive manner) I felt better. It makes sense and even seems so simplistic that it’s not even worth a mention, but I think sometimes we forget thatchildren are the happiest because they place importance in the simple things. For example, if I was home and I spent time thinking about how no one invites me out, I’m going to end up feeling pretty down. If instead I simply bite back my pride and invite someone out or rather in to watch a movie, I’m a much happier person. It’s literally that simple. The bubble tends to encompass us with self-doubt and pity and pride. But we have the power to pop it! The humble man isn’t thinking about himself at all. All he cares about is his love for each person that he encounters. He thinks less about himself and suddenly the pride fades and he gets the amazing opportunity to witness Jesus in all that surround him. I mean let’s be honest, once you truly listen and get to know someone can you help but love them? As soon as we love them we view them as God does, and that is the most amazing gift in the world.
To conclude, I challenge you. Pop your bubble. Let’s place down our pride for this week and invite someone out to coffee or lunch. When you’re with them, don’t focus on what you have to say, focus on the words that they are saying. Ask a few questions, and truly focus on getting to know them. Then see how great your love is for them. By doing this we are following God’s will: we are loving each other.
Sara Bushland is a Sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University. She is studying Rehabilitation Services with a Specialization in Orientation and Mobility, largely inspired by her youngest sister. Sara is fearless when it comes to grabbing people's attention on campus, enjoys making people laugh with her, and is pretty fond of #authenticrelationships. Feel free to e-mail her at email@example.com!