Living With Humility and Faith
As the current world continues to get crazier and crazier, my anxiety reaction about uncertainty has gotten crazier with it. I realized that I could either continue to stress my entire body with this, ‘til whenever the world “calms down” (will it ever??), or I could choose instead to do something about my own reaction. Thankfully, I finally chose the latter, but I’ve got to be honest; it hasn’t been an easy task. Turns out, I have found solace, peace and comfort for my overactive mind in a very unexpected place. In humility.
I am not talking about submissive humility to others; that can end up being an abdication of both our autonomy and boundaries, and generally not a healthy choice. (Been there, done that). I am talking about a broader sense of humility. But I’ll get back to that in a minute…
Those who know me, know that the bulk of my anxiety and fear (and resulting poor decisions and shitty moods) come from my chart-topping inner need for control. Not control over people, but over whatever my current situation might be. Which leads to fear, which leads to the aforementioned shit-spiral. I’ve come to realize that this anxiety pops up pretty much whenever I’m faced with new and unfamiliar or threatening situations, or situations in which I cannot be 100% in control of the outcome. Situations where the chance of failing is there.
In other words; well, life.
I know all this, and yet, this pattern of behaviour has persisted. Since childhood, likely. But in any case; that shit’s been comin’ round for way too damned long. I have grown very weary of the toll that anxiety and negative projection takes on me; as well as feeling guilty for the effect it has on those close to me. Because when you love someone, they shouldn’t have to struggle to love you back in your self-created stew of anxiety, acting like a cornered animal, being short tempered and a general pain-in-the-ass and not listening to reason as my worry/projection spiral winds up. We all have times of genuine struggle; big changes, big disappointments, loss…that isn’t what I’m talking about. Those ARE the times when we need to lean into those who love us, for support. BUT, when we are creating unnecessary strife in our lives by worrying about control, or shit that hasn’t happened yet, or trying to grasp control when instead we need to be letting go; our families and friends are not obligated to suffer that, because WE are in control of that. (Ironic, no?)
Humility and Faith
Which brings me back to the point of how I finally reached some positive humility in my life, or at least the beginnings of it showing itself, over my usual anxious pandering at control when I’m worried that shit might go south…
Through the process of turning back to God and prayer for a whole bunch of other reasons, I realized that in order to truly embrace my faith, LIVE the faith I felt I had re-discovered; that humility and patience with God’s plan were the critical pieces I needed to work on. I suck at patience. Always have. Truly suck; like, a sewer-pipe-sized straw, suck. I just do not wait well for things to take shape of their own accord.
When I first learned to do wheel pottery, I kept rushing pieces to get to the next phase, and that resulted in a shit-ton of frustration and collapsed wasted clay (albeit, also a couple of interesting “creative” bowls…but I digress). For whatever reason, I have always felt the need to be ahead of where I should be in everything I did, like that was some kind of marker that I was “truly on top of it”. Where the hell that came from, who knows. But I came to realize that not only was I rushing things that I shouldn’t be rushing in pottery (like not slowing my wheel down when pulling up sides and remembering to pause and re-shape the rim rather than just keep pulling up until the inevitable collapse), but in most other areas of my life too.
Pottery can be a rather zen-like life lesson if you let it, even without the ghost of Patrick Swayze sitting behind you and sappy music playing. It is a lesson in letting things take shape as they are meant to, and letting that be. Yes, sometimes you have a goal in mind on how you want a piece to look, but I can honestly say in hindsight that some of my best pieces came from end results that were nothing like the “plan”. They came from the times when I worked WITH the clay on that given day, not against it. When I stopped worrying so much about the end result, but in making the best effort at where the piece was in the process and waiting to see what it gave me in return. Sometimes as I learned, I would even get up from the wheel for a minute, re-adjust my mind, and go back to keep at it with a new mindset.
As it has been in life, turns out. After years of struggle with persisting in the attempt to jackhammer square pegs into round holes, pushing what I thought the agenda should be, rushing timelines to suit what I thought they should be, attempting to force relationships where they didn’t want to go (or maybe just weren’t ready to go, yet); I realized that I was tired, frustrated, and defeated. I was finally willing to finally say to God in prayer “OK, I give my life up to you to fulfill your purpose for me”. To truly let His hands mold the clay of my life into whatever shape it would become. That I needed to recognize He saw further down the road than me. To get up, walk away, adjust my attitude and come back to the issue with a different perspective. And a monumental weight flew away. Of always having to be the boss of everything.
But when I said that, I still hadn’t yet grasped how that should and could change the way my day-to-day life was lived. How far reaching the positive effects of genuine humility could take me.
I have come to realize with time, that humility is not weakness. That it is not abdicating my responsibility for living my best life. It is rather a willingness to BE on the ride, but not always thinking I know the route the train should take to get there. That a fail or two is merely a bump in a long road headed for success.
Just Letting Things Be
It took me quite a few times hitting the wall at speed after my insistent head-down-drives to think that perhaps I could benefit from JUST LETTING THINGS BE SOMETIMES. That I didn’t always have to be ten steps ahead of the moment I was living in, with all the answers all lined up and all the possible outcomes “covered’. That often, I truly did NOT know best, and didn’t have all the tools I needed to move ahead yet. I had to learn, re-learn really, to trust that I was where I was meant to be, that situations were unfolding as they were meant to (even if it was NOT how I wanted them to), and that in the end, I would be much better off to simply focus on living the best now, be willing to pivot with life’s tricky turns, and TRUST that this was all part of me reaching the purpose of my life, and finding all that I wished for. Just maybe in a different package than I thought it should come in, and on a different flight.
This came hard for me. It took many half-attempts, and full-on refusals, before I could truly say that I was living with humility before God, the universe, whatever you want to insert there. As well as humility to the other people in my life who also sometimes needed to be driving that bus for many reasons. Whether that be leading a trail up a mountain in Peru, or taking charge of a project or meeting at work while I became a part of the team, not always the leader.
The biggest benefit of living a more humbled life was realizing the humanity of others on this journey. Realizing the sense that we are all struggling with reaching whatever goals we have set for ourselves. That it is OK to stumble and fall sometimes (hello, perfectionism in retreat?). That we truly do not have to be “large and in charge” of every minute detail of our lives every day, to live a purposeful and positive life.
I had discovered that there is GREAT solace in being able to metaphorically give things up to a higher power. It felt like a bag of rocks being lifted off my back, so that I could focus on just showing up . The freedom of knowing all I had to do was live the current moment to the best of my ability, because it was not my job to worry about the next ten things down the road, it was God’s, and that He would get me there, in my own due time, and on the road he had already mapped out for me.
I could finally heave that huge sigh of relief when I realized I was not in charge of everything. That it was not my job to make everything happen, and that sometimes my job was not to figure out what to do but to wait for my guiding force. Step back and let things develop as they would, and not call that chickening out or giving up. To be still, and just effing WAIT; for things to take shape, for other people to do what was in their own path, for ME to be ready for the next step when I had lived all the things I needed to in the current one in order to be ready to handle the “next”. I DIDN’T HAVE TO PUSH EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. That is the real definition of faith… believing in what you cannot see or did not make.
Yes, I am still sometimes impatient and insistent (well, OK, often if I am being honest), and ready to fall back in to that old role of jackhammer to my own destiny. But now, I know that when that feeling comes up, to stop and take a breath, stand down and whisper a little prayer. To say “I know you’ve got this, even though I am struggling right now, that you will show me the answer soon, and that you will never leave me stranded”. And just let life move forward as it is meant to, even if I cannot see the finish line clearly.
In the end, to me humility has meant the realization that by living a humbled life in faith, that I will never be alone. Which truly has always been my biggest fear anyway. That there is always that benevolent shadow on the fringe of my life, making sure that I stay where I should be, even if I am kicking and screaming about being there.
Living Each Moment in Humility
The value of this as become a lot clearer to me while working at making it part of how I live each moment; that humility has value not only for myself, but for humanity in general. The people I have met along the way who live in this kind of faithful humility are inevitably calmer, kinder, more positive in outlook, more successful in their endeavors and more open to life. And it matters not what life force they are humble to; just that they are aware that there is something bigger than ourselves at work, always. They have lost the arrogance of believing that mankind is above all else, and that is huge. Because knowing that it is not always all about us and our immediate wants somehow transforms us not only into less stressful people, but into more empathic, loving, forgiving and giving people. Surely exactly what this stressful world needs, no?
Living with more humility has given me greater humanity and appreciation for what all of us face daily with fear in our chests pounding like a drum. I am thankful for that gift, and never realized that this would be the box it came in. So let’s fuckin’ go, God, I know you’ve got this, and no matter what happens today, I know it’s meant for me to keep growing and learning. And I promise to sit down and keep my seat belt on in the back seat more often.
I’m a 64 year old aging hippie with a sarcastic tongue and out of control ginger hair. I am passionate in advocating for women “of a certain age”, especially we single ones, because we aren’t quite dead yet, in spite of the fact that we are often largely invisible and made to feel redundant on many levels. I hope to make you think, make you laugh, and mostly, feel like no matter where you are in life, you are never alone, and whatever dumb thing you think is going to sink you, won’t. Because heaven knows if that were true, I wouldn’t be here.