for the Journey
Along THE WAY
(5) OVERCOMING SELF
My Lord and my God —
- Here I am again, falling down before You, offering my self to You. The daily taking up of my cross and crucifying of my self, my ego, my pride, is so difficult, but I know that it is absolutely essential for life in You — for life serving You. I know that it is necessary for me to empty myself of self in order to permit You to fill me with Yourself. Please give me all that I need to accomplish this self-emptying, for it is infintely more than I can possibly do on my own. But then, isn't that exactly the issue? If I rely on myself to crucify my self, or to do any other spiritual work, aren't I filling myself with self, rather than with You? So please fill me with Yourself. Please help me to rely on You and not on myself. Please help me to trust You totally, as a little child trusts his or her mother or father. This trusting You is the center of what the spiritual life is all about, isn't it? And not just the spiritual life, but life itself? Isn't it this trust in You, obeying You because we trust Your decisions and judgment, that is the heart of living in You? And isn't this, then, the road to humility?
Lord, it seems that humility is harder than ever to achieve. It seems that our society not only has not the slightest conception of what humility is, but that all the values of the world-that-knows-you-not in which we live, vehemently opposes humility and promotes self-reliance, never reliance on You. The "programming" of our times teaches that we must have self-esteem, and self-esteem results in self-reliance and self-assertion, and furthermore, that humility, meekness, relying on anyone else, are all signs of weakness and lack of self-esteem. (Lord, indeed, it is dreadful when children, women [or anyone] is abused, either emotionally or physically, and their self-esteem eroded away before it can be nurtured and strengthened.) But it seems, Lord, that humility, meekness and trust in You are the consequences of strength, not weakness. It seems that when one has Your Strength, then one can accept humiliation without retaliation — that one can even be mistreated without it harming oneself, precisely because it is the self that feels the insult, the hurt, the offence, the brutality, the abuse. It seems, Lord, that when we are made strong by trust in You, we can indeed overcome our pre-occupation with our self, for it is the self that feels the physical and emotional pain. It seems, Lord, that if we are filled with Your Self, instead of our self, then we are strong, free, resiliant and unconquerable. Furthermore, Lord, it seems that this unsurpassable, unsurmountable strength is the ultimate self-esteem, and also the ultimate humility. If our strength is from reliance on You, how can we possibly take credit for it ourselves? And therefore, how can we take any other posture but that of humility? I think of Mother Teresa again. She possessed such a profound humility and meekness, and relied totally on you. But she owned virtually nothing and lived very simply. Yet she has moved mountains by her strength, which is total trust in Your strength, and when she addressed the United Nations, she was introduced as the "most powerful woman in the world."
But it seems that the Evil One, the Prince of Darkness, has deceived so many people, convincing them that humility and meekness are symptoms of weakness and lack of self-esteem, when the exact opposite is true — that humility and meekness proceed from the strength and high self-esteem that comes from overcoming one's self and being filled with Your Self. Lord, please help me to realize within me, increasingly everyday, the actualization of this knowledge. Please help me to glory in You, in obeying You, in serving You, and not to glory in my Self. Please fill me with Your humility, obedience, meekness and love for You and all Your children, and for Your whole creation. Amen.