Humility does not rob us of our hard-won self-esteem, or remove our need to further accept ourselves as we are– defects and assets alike. In Reinhold Niebuhr’s full version of what is now known as the Serenity Prayer, the theme of humbleness runs through it.
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Again, realizing that I am not God. Even Jesus, the God-Man, resigned himself to participate in the world as it was/is. One must take life on life’s terms living one day at a time.
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
Humility recognizes God’s direction on how to employ both our assets and defects for the good of our selves and others.
Humility Takes Great Strength
For a long time, the second line of the serenity pray evaded me.
Accept the things I can not change
I was to accept what I knew to be wrong and damaging? My ability to change my life did not depend on me. Step 7 circled me back to Steps 1,2,3. I asked myself these questions again:
- Did I really believe in the unmanageability of my life?
- Did I want sanity and believe God could restore me?
- Was I still willing to make a daily decision to turn my will and my life over?
Changing means owning the problem. Acknowledging the character assets and defects requires courage. When I say these are mine, the responsibility to increase or decrease my mindset and actions that follow are solely mine to pursue.
No more victim, no more “if he would just”, whining about my life. It is just me and God sorting through what to keep and what to let go of in my character.
Why You Might Want to Keep a Character Defect
Sounds so strange! Keep a defect of character? Why?
Character defects develop out of response to life. Often they protect us from a person or a feeling. When I worked in the juvenile court system, many of the children I worked with were acting out for these reasons. Truly, they were behaving rationally in the irrational environment they found themselves in at home or school.
As their lives destabilized so did there behavior. The children accepted their lives as they were and acted accordingly to survive. One of the things I learned in the court system stuck with me. Life is part of a system, a child acting out normally meant a parent’s life was out of control–not always, but often.
Ask yourself candidly if you are keeping a character defect for the following reasons. “Journaling” may help. Find a larger list of Character Assets and Defects Here.
Remember to look from a place of humility rather than self pity.
The Courage to Change the Things I Can
As I mentioned, I struggled to accept that there were things I could not change. After many years of pushing and shoving my way through the tough issues and people in my life, I was exhausted. Sometimes muscling and bulling my way through circumstances and relationships worked. I realized my controlling also caused great damage to relationships.
Accepting that my actions were the only thing under my control required patience with myself. It takes courage to act on that belief. It is hard to let go of my expectations for another’s actions and behavior and focus solely on your own character defects.
That left me with a lot to humbly focus on in my life.’
A verse I found useful for this practice is Psalm 139:23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Humble enough to ask for help and smart enough to listen to the answer. This is such a better plan than trying to control everyone and everything around me!
What do you need the courage to change? Drop us a line and let us pray for you! <[email protected]>