I’m sentimental. My appreciation for nostalgia is a balanced one now, but when I was a kid I kept everything because of the “meaning” behind it. Homework assignments, feathers from the backyard, stuffed animals I didn’t even like; my room was a mess of clutter and I was proud of everything I had that collected dust. In one of my several “memory drawers,” was a photo album stuffed with holy cards. I had a million for every occasion, most of which didn’t apply to a 7 year old – marriage, death of a child, ordination, lost causes. Sifting through my collection while packing up for college, I came upon a yellowed, laminated scrap of paper: Mother Teresa’s Humility List. I was 17 or so and thought a few of the items were over-the-top then, but now the blow of the challenge is HUGE.
Mother Teresa’s Humility List
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do no protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.
What a challenge! The more I consider this list, the more questions I have. How do I avoid feeling hurt if the opportunity to practice #10 (accepting contempt, disregard) comes up? How do I apply #7 (accepting censures) or #14 (giving in even when right) without becoming a door mat, letting people walk all over me? Or is the idea to become one? Christ was not so I’m sure the answer to the latter is no. I suppose in order to practice these items devoutly, a person has to have a profoundly deep sense that his dignity lies in God alone. Why would I seek to be admired and loved by others if I need only to be loved by God – and I already am! so there!
Pride is a horse pill – hard to swallow. I’m so eager to work on this and develop my understanding of not only this list, but of humility on a grander scale. What are the best ways to practice humility as a wife and mother? As a friend? Sizing up the items on my scrap piece of paper makes me feel small and I can’t help but shake my head at my own soul and behavior. Bottoms up.
For more Humble Pie, try on the Litany of Humility.