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Right Sized: A Quest for Humility by Michaela Kyle

Right Sized: A Quest for Humility by Michaela Kyle September 30, 2014

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For most of my life I hadn’t the faintest idea what humility was.  I would hear others share stories about deeply embarrassing experiences followed by a remark along the lines of “Well, I sure got my piece of humble pie…” I witnessed creative, intelligent, and beautiful human beings respond to praise by belittling the subject of admiration, whether it be their appearance, personality, or work. Over and over, I observed people out rightly disagreeing and even arguing with those who dared compliment them.  Frequently onlookers would murmur in reference to the individual who had just cut themselves down, “What humility he has!”  Based off observations such as these, I decided that humility resided somewhere between serious self-deprecation and public humiliation.

It has taken quite a few trips around the sun, but the concept of humility has begun to unearth itself to me, and resembles little of what I believed it to be.  As an individual in recovery (Since 2007), “humility” was a popular topic of discussion, frequently cited in 12-step literature, and something I heard repeatedly referenced as a necessary attribute to the maintenance of long-term sobriety.  For as many times as I heard others speak of humility, I failed to ever ask what it meant to them, for fear that they would realize I wasn’t sure of what it meant to me. So, I set out on a search for the answer, intent on returning with such profound knowledge and understanding of humility that everybody would be blown away by my spiritual wisdom…needless to say, I got my piece of humble pie.

I read tons of books (in the spirit of the topic at hand, I’ll be honest… I skimmed tons of books, and read a few), and while much of what I read was brimming over with truth and wisdom, I had yet to make the jump from theory to application. I was left sitting on a pile of books, frustrated and confused, uncomfortably aware that “humility” still eluded me. This was exactly where I needed to be, and right at the moment when I was thinking my fruitless quest was over, it began.  My efforts brought me to a point where I was finally willing to set ego and fear aside and risk being human.

I was given an opportunity to connect honestly with a woman I respected, and I took it. I nervously asked her what she thought humility meant, and for the first time in my life, it clicked. She shared with me that, to her, humility meant being “right sized”, (think Goldilocks) not too much, and not too little, but just right.  She explained that we are all perfect creations in God’s vision, learning what we were meant to when we were meant to, and to attempt to be anything but who we truly are is to reject God’s handiwork.  Humility means showing up and being exactly who I am, where I am on my journey, even though fear whispers (or shouts) that I ought to be “further along”; or that I should know all the answers.  Pretending to know all the answers in the end kept the answers from me.

This gentle and kind woman further explained several things that added up to humility: balance, honesty, and most importantly, God.  She explained that part of the challenge is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often, setting fear and control aside and allowing God to guide me to show up and connect with others honestly. Humility means not putting yourself either above or below others; it meant throwing out the scale that I loved to position myself and others on.  There is no scale, there are not rankings.  After she explained this, that I was always exactly who and where I was meant to be at that present moment, that I was neither better or less than anybody else, I felt a sense of freedom I had yet to experience.  I had let go, shown up as myself, and finally been given the answer.

Since then, my understanding of humility has continued to evolve.  I have understood in new ways how difficult humility is to actually practice; how often I reject the idea of being who and where I am in any given moment; how tempting it is to either puff up or shrink down.  But all I must do in these moments of fear is remember the most important ingredient to humility: God.  In these moments I ask God to help me trust the process, and to guide me in showing up for life with balance and honesty, and to remember that it is ok to not know all the answers.

By: Michaela Kyle


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