A Reflection on Humility

Today I heard a definition of humility that I had never heard before. Perhaps the context of the conversation, especially in light of where I am at spiritually, emotionally, etc., is for thinking about another time. (Naptime is about over anyway.) It’s worth pondering.

Humility is “hearing God’s voice and doing what He says.” 

Part of the interesting context for me today is that tonight Nate and I are meeting with our church community’s “Spiritual Renewal Team” – a prayer team that takes very seriously the responsibility and gift to specifically seek insight and revelation from God for intercessory purposes. Last night I actually got nervous as I thought about meeting with the group. It’s because I know how dried up I feel. Sure, I’ve been sick with what has felt like the flu for the last week – but my spiritual well being has been off for much longer. It’s really an intimacy with God thing that has been lacking…as in, I haven’t made time with Him a priority. If we could apply the Five Love Languages model to our relationship, I would say that Quality Time has been completely off the radar. Just as in any healthy relationship, lack of something as significant as quality time means the relationship suffers. This is just the plain and simple nutshell version of something that obviously goes much deeper than a blog post in blogland. (And it’s really not to be Debbie Downer, either.)

So here’s the cool thing. Picture a sandwich. Doesn’t matter what kind, as long as there are two pieces of bread. My stuff is the filling of the sandwich, like my ‘empty tank’. And my nervousness to come before a group of people that could call out the reality of the rather dismal state of my internal well-being, my lack of discipline, my ‘lukewarm’ attitude on some things, my struggles with selfish desires…

God is sandwiching that stuff in two thoughts, truths even, to help me to see Him in this process and even in the preparation to hear Him tonight. He is always reaching for me, even when I am not reaching for Him.

This new definition of humility to consider is one part of it. Hearing and obeying…but it starts with hearing.

The second is this random reading from Oswald Chambers (My Utmost…) which I read about an hour after hearing the above mentioned nugget on humility.

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint. (Proverbs 29:18). … Once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless. We cast off certain restraints from activities we know are wrong. We set prayer aside as well and cease having God’s vision in the little things of life. We simply begin to act on our own initiative. If we are eating only out of our own hand, and doing things solely on our initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on a downward path. We have lost the vision. Is our attitude today an attitude that flows from our vision of God? Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done before? Is there a freshness and vitality in our spiritual outlook?”

My attention is piqued. The nervousness is dissipating to anticipation. This is a good thing.

An Issue with Extravagance

I got a little mad at God yesterday. I don’t totally feel guilty saying that just yet. I think God can handle it. I feel guilty for what I’m going to say about why I was a bit irked at God.

It’s all about provision, faithfulness and needs being met. These things have all happened recently, so the guilt I feel is the fact that I really have nothing to complain about. Truly, I could and probably should just shut up because in light of everything that happens to people, on a global scale and on a very minute, look around the neighborhood scale, I know that I am a blessed woman.

I just have my moments. My moment yesterday was the fact that in the last week we have spent just enough on our cars to basically wipe out our meager savings account, minus what we set aside monthly to pay for insurance. Here’s the deal. For the last few years (at least), every time there seems to be a little bit of build-up, a little bit of extra cash (remember those stimulus checks or tax refunds?) headed our way, something happens. That something is usually mechanical, with our cars winning out in this competition among inanimate but oh-so-useful objects. Tires, brakes, alternator, exhaust system/mufflers, etc. One time earlier this year, it was our washer. It wouldn’t spin out all the water. It cost $300 for the computer chip to be replaced. Frigginpieceofcrapcomputerchip.

When I am having a good moment, my perspective sounds like this: “Hmmm. So in other words, every time we have an ‘extra’ need, ‘extra’ pressure financially…it is taken care of.” Yes, that is true. Truetruetruetruetrue. So true. In my good moments, I’m deeply grateful for the moment of swiping the card or writing the check and knowing we will still eat well for the next month, and then I move on.

So, in a time where my paycheck has been cut once again recently, we could have actually found ourselves needing to put all our recent car expenditures on the credit card. (Which to my husband, this is basically like surrendering to the plague or some wretched disease. It is not an option as it only brings stress and excruciating consequences of mental anguish at the very least.) But we basically have the exact amount we need to cover everything in savings. Good, right?

Yes, good. But I had a little temper tantrum about it yesterday morning. Something about “just getting by” even if it is by supernatural provision and blessing somehow irritated me. Ugh. This is me in all my honestuglyself-ness.

I sat on my bed and thought, “I’m having a hard time with this because at some point I want to feel like there is an abundance of something. And right now, I want an abundance in our savings account.”

I’m tired of financial stuff like this defining my understanding of abundant life and God’s extravagant love and blessings. I think it has been hanging around in me, coming out in all sorts of mishmashed behaviors and thoughts that aren’t healthy. Yet I have moments where I can list pages and pages in my journal of the miraculous provisions of the last year, and years before that even. Lets talk about humbling, here… it’s truly amazing. I have an a m a z i n g husband, family and community. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma a year ago, and her health and healing is miraculous. There are significant people in my life experiencing remarkable life transformation that are evidence of God’s faithfulness and extravagant love and care for His children. I have found myself professionally and personally in a place of experiencing redemption and restoration in some working relationships, because that is the way God works: with love at His ultimate core.

So why is there something that disconnects when financial issues enter the picture?

It’s almost funny how my last post was about anger. Am I angry with God about the car crap? Am I angry that cars cost money? I’m probably a bit miffed that the money that goes to the old car keeps money from going to a newer car, one from this decade perhaps.

I don’t know if it’s really being angry at God or being angry at myself in a way. I don’t want to notice how cute fall clothes are. I don’t want to inadvertently cyberstalk people I barely (okay don’t at all) know who write about shopping extravaganzas at Anthropologie and Nordstrom and 11 other stores after they had spent the previous weekend picking out interior decor pieces for their newly built home. I don’t want to notice how many great everythings there are at Etsy. I don’t want to fantasize about camera lenses or housecleaning services. I don’t want to feel societal pressure to have a thoroughly coordinated (complete with handmade gift bags to send home with all the kids) birthday party for E next month.

I think my issue with extravagance comes down to what I want my definition of extravagance to be and what I experience with God. Can I live from a place of peace (in my mind and heart) when the stuff of life feels more like we are just getting by? Can I be thankful and content in the blessing of constant provision? Can “constant provision” equate to knowing I am abundantly cared for? (Always. No matter what my mechanic tries to tell me.) And then, can my attitude toward God be one of extravagant love, adoration and thanks returned to Him?