Several years ago, I went on a silent retreat to an Abbey.
Long story short, I discovered a few things while I was there.
- My vocation is loving and serving others.
- This vocation cannot be done in the home or outside of the home without some level of humility.
- I’m not very loving to people outside of my home.
- The Benedictine Sisters were so hospitable and kind, that I couldn’t tell them I didn’t want fish sticks for lunch because I hate fish.
- I can eat fish and not die of disgust.
- I still don’t like fish.
- At all.
I was so inspired by my visit and what I experienced, that I couldn’t convey in words how it felt, and still feels. You can understand that it was powerful because before it was even over, I had told God “yes” a million times for everything He was offering me.
“Let’s leave it all behind! Let’s do this!”
We agreed that day it was time for me to say yes.
Just like Mary did.
I mean, I said yes, and I meant it, and God gave me exactly what I wanted because I asked for it and I did what most people do; I fought it.
Tooth. And. Nail.
I wish I could tell you that I eventually gave it all up for God, but I slowly slid back into my old ways and struggled to understand why nothing was working the way I thought it should. God and I agreed that day, it was time for me to say yes, but only God followed through.
I was that friend who says, “Black Friday? Yes! 4:00 a.m.? Yes! Let’s do this!” Then sends a text at midnight and says, “Nevermind. This is crazy. I’m out.”
It wasn’t until last month that I realized what was happening. I was refusing to comply and that’s why everything was so hard. I was going about all the small challenges in my life with a huge dose of pride and self-importance because I knew my vocation…..but, I didn’t want to “lower myself” to doormat standards in order to do my vocation.
Who wants to be a doormat?
Well anyone who loves God and wants to love others the way He asks us to. Those people all want to be doormats. Because it’s pretty much the fastest way to humility.
It’s just not the popular way.
So, God, in His infinite patience, waited for me for FIVE YEARS to finally be ready to do this. But first, he had to wait for me to stop being so stupid and realize that:
- Yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
- Yes, this is how it needs to be done.
- Yes, I won’t like it all the time.
- Yes, it HAS to be done this way.
Let’s all take a moment to give thanks that I was never in Mary’s position wherein I said yes, and yes turned into, “Nevermind. This is crazy. I’m out.”
I wish I knew how to make growing in humility easier, but I don’t know anything about humility despite what I thought I knew five years ago. My journey is just starting because I finally understand what it was that I had said yes to. Fiiiiiiiiive years ago.
So, now that I do know, I can get on with failing at this.
Because I will fail.
Thankfully, Mother Theresa reminds us that, “God does not require that we be successful — only that we be faithful.”
Of course, this isn’t a humility challenge as much as it is finally throwing in the towel against my old ways, and pointing myself towards the change I’m meant to make. It’s not a challenge in the way that if I succeed I get a finisher’s medal. It’s a challenge to overcome how the world says I need to be and only by the grace of God, with an open heart, will we ever have the knowledge to see the battle inside us enough to know that it’s time to choose a side.
Although a finishers medal would be cool.
In Humility Rules, J Augustine Wetta points out that, “Fidelity in the midst of failure is called perseverance.”
Perseverance towards humility is the real challenge, not humility itself.
Failure is certain.
Fidelity is a choice.
Am I finally up for the challenge of being (for lack of a better term) a persistent doormat?
I think I am.
Of course, it probably means three things:
- I can, and should, expect to fail.
- I should not let that keep me from trying again and again.
- I can expect more fish sticks in my future.