Nathan Miller, Senior Anchor Intern
Humility is not thinking less about yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less.
The amount of time I spend thinking about myself every day is frankly astonishing. When will I wake up in the morning? Have I studied enough to pass my Accounting test later today? Should I go for a run this afternoon so I keep myself looking good? I wonder if the new people I met today think I was funny? …You get my point I’m sure. It is in light of this self-centeredness that Jesus speaks in Matthew 16 –
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
This is where humility enters. As a virtue, humility is meant to be our aide, God’s free gift to us, to overcome the tendency of pride. Seeing as, however, it would be against the spirit of humility to stand up (digitally speaking) and tell you why you should be more humble, I simply wish to offer you this open letter to myself. In my own reflection over the past few years, I’ve been drawn to this prayer called the Litany of Humility. It is a challenging prayer – I’ve learned that when we pray for humility, God gives us opportunities to practice it! Still, it has been a blessing in my life and I hope my own struggles with it can be of some benefit for you.
Now that you’re reading this letter, it means you’ve made it to graduation! As I write this now it is hard to imagine, but I’m sure senior year flew by for you. I hope you look back on this final year at Our Lady’s university and feel you have been a good steward of the blessed education you’ve been offered. It took so many people to get you to this point – I know you couldn’t have done it on your own! That’s why I hope, above all, you kept your promise to pray the Litany of Humility each day. Such a simple prayer, yet possibly even a greater challenge than graduating. There are 3 lines in particular that stick out. I hope they’ve stayed at the front of your mind amidst all the excitement of this year.
From the desire of being loved: Deliver me, O Jesus.
I remember the first time you heard that line and the initial shock that accompanied it. It’s the first one in the Litany and it gave you worries. “If God is love, isn’t it good for me to seek love?” Thankfully faith isn’t a solo ride and you had great role models who helped you wrestle with this. They helped you realize that love is inherently good, in fact, the greatest good (1 Cor 13:13), but like any good thing, it can be misused. Love is freely given and freely received. They helped you realize that the crux of this prayer is that you actually deserve love so much that when you reach for it, you sell yourself short. Trust in God’s timing.
I remember the times throughout college when you believed you needed everyone to “love” you. When you met new friends or even with your best friends, you judged every interaction by how much the other people laughed at your jokes, listened intently to your stories, and whether they wanted to hang out with you again. If people didn’t think you were the most interesting man in the world, you felt you did something wrong. Actually, it’s unfair for me to write that in past tense because even now I still struggle. That’s why I’m writing this to you Nathan – I hope you’ve learned to bring humility into every interaction you have. I hope you’ve accepted the grace of this first line in the Litany to realize you don’t need to be the center of attention. I hope you’ve learned to spend more time laughing with other people, more time listening to their stories, and freely given your time to all the inspiring people you’ve met here.
From the fear of being humiliated: Deliver me, O Jesus.
Excuses are an addicting thing. A brutally honest friend once told you that you’re always making an excuse when you mess up. If you’re not right, it’s because of this or that or something else. It’s never genuinely your mistake because that would be a sign of weakness – that you aren’t smart enough or athletic enough or convincing enough.
As much as you didn’t like to hear that at the time, I hope you’ve taken the lesson to heart. I hope you’ve learned to own up to your faults and stop worrying about how others might perceive a little failure. You are not defined by your successes or failures. I hope you accept every little embarrassing moment as a reminder that Jesus was humiliated too, and he endured it patiently out of love to win your heart.
That others may be preferred to me in everything: Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Sophomore year was difficult when you applied for numerous internships and didn’t hear anything back for months. You wondered if you had become less “valuable” because suddenly you weren’t being chosen for the opportunities you wanted.
But there’s been countless little moments too. You’ve been offended when people seemed more interested in what others had to say than you. You’ve felt hurt when you didn’t get the leadership position you felt you had worked the hardest for. You’ve felt threatened when someone was more entertaining than you.
In all this, I hope you’ve recognized the futility of desiring preference. You spent too much of your life trying to impress others to gain favor. Yes, it’s wonderful to be chosen and to feel special, but that only brings out a feeling for something that is already imprinted on your soul. God gave you incredible talents, wonderful friends, and a plan only you could fulfill. Why? So that you could serve others, just as He did. I hope you never forget His example. I hope that every day you spend less time thinking about your worries and more time thinking about His presence in the people around you.
I’m sure you’re still working on it, but I hope this year and this prayer have brought you peace!