This week I asked someone I’ve found to be the most humble person I know to write a post on humility. I’ll let it speak for itself. Here it is:
In the beginning God was a Spirit and there was no one else. God in that state had certain attributes. Attributes of a savior, healer and giver. Humility is one attribute that we see through his prophets and Jesus Christ in the Bible. Because God was alone he had no one to show his attributes to and he created men so that his attributes can be manifested through us.
I’ve had people telling me that I am humble and I always try to find a way to define what they mean. Some say I am a laid back person, and I think, that is an attribute of humility. Laid back in this sense means I am not worried or stressed about certain things that would make someone lose their sleep or appetite. I take every situation as it comes and try not to put too much into it. I mean I try not to be angry, hateful or have a sense of hopelessness when things are bad. When things are good and when I am privileged to have something that other people might not have I try not to make their situation worse by being arrogant and boastful.
I think people define being humble by the things one has and how one carries themselves because they have those good things in their life. I will give an example, I went to one of the best universities in Africa to get a law degree and I’ve had people telling me I am such a humble person. In other words I don’t go about making other people feel different because they don’t have what I have. Humility is when you think of others and you see everyone as your equal. You don’t say you belong to a certain class of people because they have the things you have.
Humility is not defined by the good things in life that one has. It has to do with being comfortable with who you are and putting others first. You can have nothing in life but still be humble. You can be going through the most difficult time in your life but still be humble. You can have all the wealth in the world but still be humble.
Let me tell you about the most trying time in my life and what people said to me during that time. I found myself jobless and pregnant after I finished my degree. I thought I was going to get a job soon after giving birth but that did not happen. A second child was born and I thought oh well maybe the job will come after giving birth. There was no job, a third child was born instead. To some this was embarrassing considering I had a law degree. I was supposed to be practicing law instead of giving birth. Things got worse and for nine years I didn’t have a job. Things got to a point where friends and family would tell me I was a hopeless case.
My kids were the best thing that ever happened to me. The way I looked at it at that time was this, the time I spent home having kids I was covering one gap in my life. I thought it was a good thing I was having kids before my career started. I knew once I got a job I would probably have no time to have kids. This is how I turned the situation into something worthwhile and I know nobody saw it that way.
One time I had friends come up to me and they said I looked awful and the way I dressed did not show I had a law degree. At that point I wanted to run and bury myself but I didn’t. I did not lash back at them. Though I tried to defend myself it was hopeless. They were not ready to understand that I had three kids with no job and that I couldn’t afford to buy the cheapest clothes in town. To them I was supposed to look “it”. My dressing, looks, and lifestyle was supposed to show the whole world I had a law degree.
The funny thing is these friends had issues in their lives that I knew about and they were now turning on each other but I found myself comforting them. From that day I decided to live as though I had everything going well in the world. I even imagined myself with a good job. I continued going to church and praying, knowing full well that there was one who looked beyond my sins and saw my needs.
So to me humility is how you contain your situation, that is when people start talking about your situation you don’t blow up or become emotionally damaged. You hold your head high and continue living but you don’t forget that there is a God who rewards us with good things. Humility is a gift that God has given to us and must be nurtured by his word. When you are humble you can even pray and ask God to forgive those who hurt you the most and you can even ask for forgiveness from other people and not feel humiliated.
So I finally got a job as a legal adviser in one of the fastest growing companies in my country. This was unexpected but God made it happen. Now I tell people that it wasn’t such a bad thing having kids when I did because I know I can now do anything to develop my career. The law profession is considered a somewhat prestigious profession in the world and as a lawyer you are expected to carry yourself in that “prestigious way” and that is not a bad thing. But who said lawyers cannot be humble? They certainly can be.
At work I usually sit in for a friend at the reception and to some people that is a no go area because they wouldn’t want to do that. For me working at the reception is just doing work and helping a friend. A friend said people at work are surprised to hear that I have a law degree and I asked why that was. I asked her that on purpose because I wanted to know the thoughts of other people and their comments. She said because I did not act like a lawyer and then she said lawyers are supposed to be uptight and they don’t associate themselves with people who are not like them. Fortunately I am not like that.
I am not saying being humble is a sign of weakness or that you should not chase your dreams and acquire wealth. I see my law degree as a stepping stone in my career but it does not define who I am or how I should act. It does not mean I should bring other people down or make them feel worthless.
God revealed himself in simplicity and in humility through Jesus Christ and we should do the same. The way I see it is this, it can be difficult to really tell yourself you are humble but our works and thoughts must be a manifestation of humility to others. Humility is the opposite of aggression, arrogance, boastfulness and vanity. God requires us to meet the needs of others before our own and any wealth that is gained at the expense of others can only bring anger and strife among people.
Confucius defined humility as the solid foundation off all virtues. People have this belief that humble people are weak, hopeless and passive. The way I see it people who are humble have a certain quietness, meekness and softness in them. Through these attributes you see a certain strength that they have and that strength surpasses anything.
You will find that humble people are not pressured by anything to be perfect because their focus is not on other people but things around them just flow into perfection without them trying too hard. Humility is when you see the best in others no matter what they have or don’t have.
Now that I have a job those friends that I lost when I had nothing are coming back telling me how beautiful I have become. My point is, humility does not define a person according to where or what they are in life. Humility is when you are able to lift someone’s spirit when they are going through a difficult time. It is when you can see the beauty that is in others whether privileged or less privileged.
I have tried to explain what being humble is through my experiences and maybe you can sit down and look back at your own experiences to see whether your life and the things you do or say define humility. Let everything that is in us or that we are define humility.
By Tariro Makwavarara.