Today I was shown something about love that I need to share. I realized in a very palpable way that true love is humiliating. I mean that love, when sincerely given, drives you to humility. Not to some type of false humility that says “I’m no good, and you are so much better than me,” but to an honest and sincere humility that is comfortable enough with your true self to forget your worries, insecurities, and agenda. True, humble love is able to act for the good of the other person without needing to focus on oneself. I know this theoretically, as I’m sure you do too, but today I relearned it experientially.
It wasn’t anything huge. I was sitting down with the youth ministry team at JSC for a nice, home-cooked lunch in the Rock House. Seven of us were squeezed around our little table in the kitchen, when our Associate Executive Director Stephen, who had been out taking a phone call, came in to join us. I had a hunch that we needed another chair for him. So, as Stephen was fixing his plate, I leaned over and whispered to one of my teammates, “Hey, is there an extra chair over there?” With my vision, of course, I wasn’t able to see well enough to make that determination for certain. After I said it, one of my teammates who had overheard promptly got up to grab Stephen a chair. I started to protest saying that I was asking so that I could get his chair. I may be blind, but I am perfectly capable of grabbing a chair for someone. My indignation was met with a simple rebuke from one of my teammates. “Be humble.”
There it was. In two words, I had been cut to the core of my frustration. Yes, I wanted to do something good for Stephen, but I wanted to be the one to do it. It wasn’t just about getting Stephen a chair. Apparently, there was a part of me that wanted to take pride in the fact that I was the one doing it. My teammate was not implying that I couldn’t get the chair. He was simply responding in love to the need that he was made aware of. Because of my own insecurities, I was making it about me rather than him. It was love, but an imperfect kind of love—a love that is insecure and self-interested. .
As I was called to remember, true love involves humility. It involves the humiliation of forgetting your own worries, your own insecurities, your own agenda so that you can act solely for the good of another. How many of us so called “good people” spend our days settling for this type of self-interested love? Think about your own life. Would you take as much pleasure in someone’s good if you were not able to be the one directly providing it? Maybe you would. And if that is the case, thanks be to God. But if you are like me and find yourself still struggling with living out this type of love, I will encourage you as my teammate did for me.
This humble love is the love that Christ shows us, and it is also the love that he continues to call each of us to on a daily basis. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to imitate Christ and his mother in their humility, that we may be freed from the shackles of our own egotism so as to love and be loved with greater joy and abundance. Amen.
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7