“What are you?” a friend and mentor asked. My mind instantly began racing through a list of potential answers: a Christian, a missionary, a wife, a mother, a linguist, an adventurer…
He interrupted my thoughts with his next sentence, “The answer to that is, you’re human.”
That’s not what I wanted to hear! Human carries with it a connotation of weakness, fallibility, and insufficiency that raised an instant aversion in my mind. Ridiculous as it may be, I didn’t want the term to apply to me. Thus began the awareness of my addiction.
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart-mind, soul, and ‘strength’. The Hebrew word translated as “strength,” meod, is translated elsewhere as “much” or “very.” I like to consider the concept of “much-ness” or “very-ness” as it pertains to our composition and what we bring before God. In that conversation about being human, I realized that I was addicted to my own much-ness.
All my life, I have given and retracted this offering to God: my inner strength that I have used to drive me towards my goals; my inner vision that has sustained me through distraction and turmoil; my muchness in which I have exulted and upon which I have relied for a sense of worth and purpose.
At various times, God has revealed to me, the upside-down truths of His Kingdom: the peace in surrender; the safety in confession; the power in reliance on His strength; His footprints in the chasms of grief. He has shown me, and I have understood and grown and loved and forgotten.
I escape from the vulnerability and weakness that frightens and repels me. I try to manage my failures and insufficiency by submersing myself in a sense of my own power. But like all addictions, the effects only last for so long and harm follows in their wake.
By estranging myself from the knowledge of my humanity, I was unwittingly working to sever my connection to the Savior. In the fumes of my aversion to weakness, my compassion shrivels to condescension.
The same friend and mentor told me, “You cannot minister the Gospel if you do not believe it for yourself!” It has been a long time since I have cried out, “Lord save me too!” In all my convictions and my drive to ‘serve’ God, I forgot that first I am human.
I am weak, needy, and insufficient to fix myself. I need a Savior. I have a Savior! He loves me, human me, with a love that is independent of my perceived worth or strength. He cares for me in my need. His power is made perfect in my weakness. It is in my weakness that He displays the truth of His Good News – His love is enough.
This, I believe is the meaning of humility: to know what you are and not turn away. How we can bear to do so? By walking with the One who speaks love over us and ever so slowly letting that love rewrite what we know.
“Humble yourself before the mighty God…because He cares for you.”
Mary Grimm is passionate about encountering God in His Word, His created world, and the people He loves. She felt God’s call to missions at the age of 14. Beyond education or training, the best preparation was and is learning to love the person in front of her. She and her family now live in a remote village in Papua New Guinea where they are learning how to love their community well.
Connect with Mary: firstname.lastname@example.org