Monthly Archives: February 2015

To Be Lowly

I looked up the word “humility” in Webser’s 1828 Dictionary of the American Language the other day. The results were fascinating. One of the definitions was a whole list of new words I had to look up the definitions for. The first one: lowly. And amongst all the other definitions was this one:

Having a low esteem of one’s own worth.

First time I’ve ever used that dictionary and not liked the definition I found (I’m rather fond of old definitions). You see, normally when I read “having a low esteem of one’s own worth” I automatically translate it to mean that someone thinks they are worthless. (I think that’s my modern English affecting that.) But if that’s the definition of lowly, and lowly is one of the definitions of humble, then being humble means thinking you’re worthless. But there’s a problem with that. Calling any human – yourself included – worthless is a blatant insult to God, because He made you in His image. Humility doesn’t insult God, so that can’t be humility. It is, in fact, a weird twisted sort of pride that says you know better than the God who said that person is precious.

Then I had the idea to break it down by looking up ‘esteem’.

Opinion or judgment of merit or demerit.

Which of course led to me having to look up ‘merit’ as well. (I kind of do what people do on Wikipedia.)

To deserve; to earn by active service.

That’s where things got interesting. If you put all three definitions together you get something like this:

Having a low [opinion or judgment] of [one’s deserving of] one’s own worth.

In other words, you judge that you do not deserve and/or did not earn your own worth. “Lightbulb!” [~Gru]

This definition implies not only that the person knows their worth, but that they also know that they don’t deserve that worth because they didn’t earn it. Thus, the definition would also imply that you got your worth from Someone else, and you know it. Which you did. God gave you your worth when He made you in His image, and so humility is giving God credit for that. When you understand that you don’t deserve to have any value whatsoever, but then know that God gave you incredible value even though you could never have possibly ever in your life earned or deserved it…that’s what it means to be lowly. And that’s one aspect of what it means to be humble.

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It’s Time, not Flowers

You’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t tend to post things about holidays. (Half the time it’s because I just don’t remember the holidays exist, and the other half is that I simply don’t have anything new to say about them.) Honestly, I barely even remembered that yesterday was Valentine’s Day. (Hey, when you don’t have a significant other, you can afford to forget things like that!) Howsomediver, it seems to be the “topic of the week” so here goes.

I confess I haven’t done a very wonderful job of loving people in my lifetime. I could list off people that, when they died, I felt guilty because I had never taken the time to get to know them. I could list off people (who are still alive) that I’ve neglected or brushed off. How many times I’ve let school or work or just general laziness take a priority over people! I’ve probably said this before at some point, but people are hard work. You have to intentionally remember holidays and birthdays and intentionally wrack your brain for gifts that will make them feel special. You have to intentionally ponder how to consistently spend time together in spite of everybody’s crazy busy schedules. I tell you, it can be hard!

It can also be exciting. This week I tried something new – I mapped out specific time slots in which to spend time with specific people. Eg. Eat breakfast with the little brother, encourage him to finish his first-thing stuffs he does, and then offer to play with him in the remaining half-hour before he has to start school. And set aside a whole hour on Saturday morning just to play whatever he wants to play. (I will say, I ended up with a tiara, a cotton plant, and a hair clip made out of bread, glue, and paint all on my head at the same time. Yeup, it was a great time!)

My new method seems to be working so far. I got to spend time chatting with a nine-year-old kid over milk and cereal and yogurt, and we built a boxelder bug cage/playground/fort/thing out of LEGOs in record time. I got to take daily walks with Noelle (except for one day when it was cold and we both needed to get things done in the kitchen, so we did that instead) in which we chatted about anything and nothing. I got to spend a couple hours with bunches of adorable munchkins and bake cakes and examine a sewing machine with their older sister. And you know what I found?

Much as I enjoy writing and drawing and painting and reading and all those fun things that I like to think I’m good at, none of them can compare to people. (Yes, even if people sometimes terrify me.) Know what my favorite parts of this week were? The people. Even though half the time I botch the encounters with other humans in one way or another, my favorite things are still the people. The peanutbuttery little fingers and faces, the grinning little boy insisting I put that cotton plant in my hair, those sandy miles with just Noelle and me. And who cares about the mess the little one is making by using the drying rag on the still-dirty dishes, or the tangled hair, or the sore feet and aching hip? The people are worth it. The people are worth the sacrifice. Even if I don’t have time to write or draw because I’m busy singing a ridiculous song to a giggling nine-year-old boy and the cat he dragged into my room.

So we just finished giving giving people flowers and chocolate and sentimental cards. That’s nice once or twice a year. But love – real love that proves the flowers and chocolate and cards are sincere – can be the choice just to spend time with someone. You don’t have to do something elaborate, you just have to do something intentional. Because it’s the intentional year-round stuff with people that they’ll remember, far longer than those chocolates and flowers will ever last. I know I’ll sure remember it.

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I May Not See in Front of Me

I love music. Music speaks to me in a special way. As the seasons of my life change from one thing to another, I generally have a special song or two that I keep going back to, or maybe just a phrase from a song. I’ve gone through quite a few of them in the past three or four years, but there’s one phrase that keeps coming back to me again and again, no matter what’s going on at the time.

“I may not see in front of me
But I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder
And Lord it’s clear, You’ve brought me here
So faithful every step of the way”
~I am Found in You, by Steven Curtis Chapman

That pretty much sums up the story of my life. In the past several years there have been a lot of things that I could not understand at the time. Yet looking back now, I can see God’s hand in everything. I can see His hand in the drought during 2011 and 2012 that I struggled to understand. I can see His hand in my great-grandmother and a dear neighbor going home to be with Him. I can see His hand in Noelle’s wreck and all the chaos that followed in its wake. I can see His hand in all the health problems I’ve had over the years. I can see His hand in multiple mistakes and things that, at the time, I never would have believed He could use for good. I was (and still am) ridiculously short-sighted when it comes to stuff that’s going on around me. Yet when I look over my shoulder at where God’s taken me, I wouldn’t trade all the difficult things for anything. Because He really did and does use them, and I would not be anywhere near where I am had they not happened.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

It’s one thing to know that in your head, but it’s another thing to be able to look back and see it in your own life. I believe Paul knew this from experience, and I know without a doubt from my own experiences that it is true. When I look back on how much God has changed me in the last several years, it takes my breath away. When I remember to look back on His past faithfulness, I have no trouble trusting Him for the future. He hasn’t ever forsaken me, even if I couldn’t see that at the time. And I know that if He was with me during all the hard things I have been through, I know without a doubt that He will always be with me no matter what lies ahead.

Knowing that gives me such freedom. I don’t have to know what lies ahead. (Hey, I don’t even know for sure what I’m going to be doing this summer!) I don’t have to know if my health problems or loneliness/minor depression will ever totally go away in this life, because I remember how He’s used them to shape me in the past, and I know that even if I face them for the rest of my life He will stick by my side and teach me through them. So then, I don’t have to be worried about the future, because even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death itself, He will always be with me.

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