Here’s the thing: Thinking of others first has its rewards

Sundays set the tone for my week. I love sitting in church for an hour receiving a positive message that gives me hope that maybe I can make it through life without committing myself into a mental asylum.

For instance, the last message was about gentleness which brought up the word humility. In a social media driven, selfie obsessed culture, I looked around the church and wondered if the word “humility” was lost on anybody. Then it was like an angel slowly lifted a mirror to my face, but instead of feeling guilt, I felt set free.

As I sat there thinking about humility, I realized that’s the key ingredient missing from my life. I’m not a particularly vain person, but I’ve cared less about others and think more about myself lately. I’m naturally that annoying person that loves others quite easily, so feeling this way bothers me. Without humility my own life drains me. It’s exhausting being self centered. Mirror, mirror on the wall … I’m tired of myself. Like a black hole that never gets fed I get caught up in my own “stuff” and it’s easy to be stuck in letting my insecurities overwhelm me.

If we could think away our problems, life would be grand. So instead of putting them under a magnifying glass, perhaps focusing on doing good work for the sake of a job well done and shaping this part of my character will be helpful.

To be honest, my first thought on humility was of the Doozers in Fraggle Rock with Jim Hensen’s Muppets. They are little ant-like construction workers with hard hats and boots that are constantly building edible cities. They are happy when the large Fraggles eat their candy-like buildings, because they enjoy knowing their work is appreciated (eaten) and it gives them another chance to be creative and rebuild a new construction. The Doozers are happy to get their work done and happy that it serves others. I wish my attitude was more like that.

Ironically, I’ve been teaching my son to have empathy. When someone is crying he doesn’t pay much attention to them. He likes to cry in private, so perhaps he feels that others might want to be left alone too. In any case it drives me nuts. When he’s older will he be the Good Samaritan or will I find human bone chimes everywhere in his house?

He’s only in first grade and overall a good boy, but teaching sympathy is new for me. His older sister has always been compassionate. She acts like a direct descendant of Mother Teresa and no, she did not learn that from me.

There are too many things that make me rage. Bad drivers. American presidential candidates. People in the checkout line that push their grocery cart too close. Stepping in a puddle. Stepping in something worse than a puddle.

The humble people in my life rarely seem to be rattled. I wonder if they’re just naturals like my daughter or if it’s a choice. Maybe it’s both. We can choose to be bitter or choose to let it go. Choose our ego or choose to be understanding. I’m too hot headed to just choose flowers and rainbows. When I eat humble pie, it’s messy. At least I’m honest, right? Being human is always a work in progress, especially in relationships.

When I think about how I’ve been married to my husband for eleven years, I’m pretty sure someone should throw us a parade. Every anniversary deserves an orchestra and it needs to rain edible confetti. Mostly, because I’ve noticed over the past couple years our fights have been pretty mild. Somewhere along the line, we’ve realized actually listening to each other usually diffuses any misunderstandings. I know. This is ground breaking stuff. We’ve noticed that when we approach each other gently with the sole intention of being on the same page, it works out a lot better then me immediately flipping out. Who knew!?

It took time, but the work of creating a common ground has paid off.

Here’s the thing: I’m certainly no guru on the topic of “humility.” It’s like the blind leading the blind. The great C. S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” If we’re being real and vulnerable with others, we might have the honor of getting the same behavior in return. Real relationships are valuable. Humility isn’t being a doormat, it’s being a doorway. It gives us permission to be ourselves, because people deserve to know the real you.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. If they don’t respect that, move on. Whether it comes natural or takes work, stay humble for the sake of others and for the sake of yourself.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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