Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Virtue of Humility


With the help of my spiritual director, I am concentrating on trying to develop the virtue of humility--and having set that as my goal, I am finding that God is giving me plenty of chances to grow in this virtue!


Until I became a Catholic, I considered humility to be a weakness: I viewed my arrogance as attractive self-confidence, a positive trait that had no need of modification.  I went through life scattering people's feelings, with only pity for those poor, weak people, who could not stand up to my strength!


Wow, have I learned a lot since then.    


I am dealing with a particularly difficult situation right now.  Our pastor decided to change the locks on the parish building where an organization I head meets regularly at night--but he did not tell me or anyone else about this in advance, so I discovered it only when my key no longer worked.  I was deeply hurt, because I had treasured the privilege of 24/7 access, which I needed because the office is only open 4 days a week, and there are resources in that building that I need to get to at odd days and times.  However, even though he handled this clumsily due to lack of experience (this is his first pastorate), he certainly had the right to do this.  


Soon after this change was made, I came there to set up for one of our evening meetings, which involved a potluck meal--and contrary to what had been promised, the building was locked, and I was unable to locate him or anyone else who could let me in.  Finally one of the Deacons came and I got in... and then Father appeared--but I foolishly let loose my temper on him, with the bad effect you might expect.


Now, he is so angry because of my rudeness, that he is refusing to speak to me and give me an opportunity to apologize.  At first, I tried to justify my behavior because of what he did-- but with the help of my spiritual director and my own reflection, I now see this incident for what it is:  another example of my pride getting in the way of reason.  If I had held my tongue that night, we could have had a rational conversation later, during which I could have explained my side and possibly even persuaded him to make an exception and let me have a new key.  Instead, my pride destroyed that possibility and also seriously damaged the good relationship I had with him.  


In an article I recently read about good mental health, one of the characteristics described is "Response Flexibility—the ability to pause before acting on my impulses and willfully change the direction of my actions if doing so suits me better than my initial impulses."  Clearly, I am lacking in that area, and I hope that--having had this horrible experience, I will remember this next time!




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