How easy to grab our identity from a group, another person, or a situation. We can call ourselves Episcopalian, New Yorkers, Republican, Democrat, Progressive, white, working class, professional, Black, American, knitter, fisherman, golfer. While we find part of ourselves in these groups, our true identity is within us and in our lives in Christ, in the oneness of all creation.
One might wonder what identity has to do with humility and humility with trust. Genuine humility rests in knowing ourselves, our gifts and our weaknesses. It comes from understanding our identity rests in and is given by God who equally loves each one. St. Paul goes further advising in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” All too often we wish to feel better than others and do so by identifying with a group or person we think gives us higher status or more love.
Instead God calls us to look into our own hearts with humility. It takes deep trust in God’s embracing love before we can view ourselves honestly, what we like about ourselves and what we do not. Once we begin seeing our own hearts in gentleness, kindness and love, we can regard others with compassion, too. We can begin to see we each one of us has a part of truth to offer to others, but none of us has the full truth. We each are a part of the body of humanity, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
To see ourselves as we are, to know we hold but part of the truth can seem scary. Most of us really want to be only what we think is our best and definitely only to show that best to others. Most of us want to be certain we hold the truth about life and others have it wrong. Both of these desires yield division which can disintegrate to hatred and even violence and prevent us from living fully.
It takes trust in God to see ourselves completely and to notice truth in others. Once we dare see into our own hearts with humility and love, we can then learn truth from others without feeling threatened. We can be respectful of others, grounded in our own reality or truth without seeking to impose our ideas on everyone. Rather we can cultivate the capacity to learn from others in humility and gentleness, to share and to listen.
Imagine a world where we shared, listened and learned in humility, trusting in God’s overarching love which we experience in Christ Jesus.