I never understood the true meaning of the word humble; I personally have taken this word for granted, until this past week. I found out that it means insensitive or obtuse. I also found out that obtuse is to be slow in understanding and feeling; and insensitive means to be deficient in acuteness of feeling.
Humility is also defined as the condition of being humble. When I look for the word humble, it means not proud or arrogant; (2) feeling insignificant, inferior or subservient. Proud means overbearing, haughty. Arrogant means (1) making unwarrantable claims to superior importance; (2) haughty or overbearing. Haughty means disdainfully proud. And disdain is to look upon or threat as beneath oneself.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the intricacy for the meaning of the word humility, where am I getting at? My main concern is to try to find out and understand the best I can what God means when He speaks about being humble. His word already says that I can only know in part because of my finite mind.
Times like these require us to show compassion and altruism to others; exhibit patience; and provide “teachable moments” to ourselves, to others and our children. Even in the face of events which are often beyond our control. I don’t know about you or what’s happening in your world, but my world I’ve seen, hunger, loss of jobs, and homes and senseless death and illnesses. We must show our family, friends and children that we can remain strong, and if we can, how can we do so with compassion and grace? We need to: listen; remain optimistic and calm; protect them; and, if possible, try to maintain normalcy. We also need to outreach to them and teach them about those who have overcome obstacles.
I, for one, also need help from time to time. I believe strongly in prayer. I found some of the answers I was looking for from family members, friends and a few from total strangers. However, it all came down to the same answers to helping others in need, no matter what that “need” might be.
…Create safety. The most important thing you can do is offer the person a safe place to fall apart. Be trustworthy, be present, be available, and be soft. Give them the warmth of your touch, the comfort of your words, and the gift of your listening.
…Refrain from offering advice until you know they’re strong enough to receive it (and/or they’ve asked for it). When a person is feeling vulnerable and broken, unsolicited advice can make them feel like they’ve failed or they’re not as good as you are at handling difficult times. Your advice may be valuable, but don’t offer it if it will make them feel small.
…Withhold judgment. Nobody who’s going through a difficult journey wants to be judged for their weakness, their tears, their messy home, or their indecisiveness. Bite your tongue even if you think they’re being foolish or immature. Let them be weak if they need to be weak. There will be time for strength later.
… Be an active listener. Let the person suffering do most of the talking and be fully present for what they are saying. In the middle of the struggle, there is nothing quite as powerful as knowing that you are heard and seen. Don’t try to fill the silences with platitudes or solutions. Leave as much space as they need to share their stories and work through what they need someone to hear.
…Offer empathy, not sympathy. Empathy lets a person know they’re not alone, sympathy leaves them feeling inferior. Empathy builds bridges, sympathy builds walls. People who offer sympathy (“poor you”) instead of empathy are usually doing it because they feel some need to elevate themselves above the other person.
…Share your stories to make them feel less alone, but don’t overshadow their stories. Stories are really important in times of grief or stress, but the most important stories that need to be shared at that time are the ones that belong to the person going through the trouble. Offer your own stories in a respectable manner, but only after they’ve had a chance to share theirs.
…Do not pretend to know EXACTLY what they’re going through. You can’t possibly know just what they’re experiencing because you are a different person carrying different baggage. You may have been on a similar path and felt similar pain (and that’s worth sharing), but each person’s path is his/her own. Let them describe what they’re going through rather than assuming you know.
…Let them cry and cry with them if that is what emerges. In any means, do not try to end their grief or fix their pain. Sit with them in the middle of that field of grief and just let what is being done what it needs to be. Nobody can take a shortcut through pain, so don’t pretend you’ve found one. Watching a loved one cry feels excruciating and you really want to fix it for them, but to show them the kind of love they need, you need to let the tears flow and simply bear witness.
…Let them know that they are courageous, even if their courage only shows up in very small ways. When the road is hard, just putting one foot in front of takes courage. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning takes courage. Help them discover their own basketful of courage stories – memories of the times when they have shown courage that will help them rise to the challenges ahead.
…to my closing remarks, I want to thank God everyday for my son, Peter. Thankful for another day to live and to share my thoughts! Thankful that I know the true meaning of being humble!…