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Rethinking Humble

Yesterday I posted about viewing ourselves as awesome, and how many of us don’t – possibly because of our belief that it’s not humble.

I think, in this month of Elul, we should re-examine what is “humble”. Because Elul is (as I understand it) all about honesty and clarity in our self-examination.

It doesn’t do any good to gloss over our faults. Equally, it doesn’t do any good to hide our successes under false modesty.

Being humble does not mean never admitting we did anything right. It would be frustrating to teach someone a skill, and see them execute it perfectly, only to have them invent reasons why they did it wrong. At best, your excitement would turn to pity at their low self-esteem. At worst, your excitement would turn to apathy in the face of insincere humility.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want God to feel either way about me. I want God to be cheering me along and to share in the inner radiance we feel when we are successful. After all, God put that there too, right?

Which brings me to another of my favorite quotes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

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