Humility = Doormat?

Humility is a difficult concept for us to grasp. We use humility as synonym for “doormat,” letting others do anything they want to us. On the contrary, we are taught to “hitch your wagon to a star” and “don’t listen to what others say” and “do your own thing.” 

The opposite of this, however, is not a “doormat” humility that lets others walk over us. Such a false humility denies our capacity to choose our own actions and gives the other inappropriate control over what is properly ours. Jesus taught us true humility in the paradox of his death. The Gospels emphasize again and again his obedience to his Father’s will. This strikes our modern sensibilities as perverse and bizarre, but Jesus in his humility and obedience to his Father released an explosion of spiritual energy that reverberates to this day.

The deepest and truest humility recognizes our creatureliness and orients us to a right relationship with our Creator. Out of the right relationship with God comes right relationship with others and an objective vision of reality as it is. Humility frees us from falseness, to be our authentic self that we were created to be.

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I am a retired family physician from rural Iowa and have an MA in Theology from Franciscan University at Stubenville, OH. While my native language is evangelical Protestant, I am fluent in traditional Catholic as well.

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