Acquiring wisdom is much better than gold,
and acquiring understanding is better than silver.
The road of those who do right turns away from evil;
those who protect their path guard their lives.
Pride comes before disaster,
and arrogance before a fall.
Better to be humble with the needy
than to divide plunder with the proud.
“Pride goes before a fall.” Everybody knows that. Who is willing to take it seriously?
Again, I’ll refer to one of my favorite spiritual guides, Richard Rohr, who writes in his book Falling Upward, “I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it.”
I can’t imagine seeking humiliation. It seems I do plenty of dumb things all the time – so I don’t need to go looking very far. Still, I’m not sure that it’s exactly humiliation I’m after, regardless of who it is that’s telling me it’s a good spiritual discipline.
Maybe that’s the problem. So long as I still have a capacity to be humiliated, I’m still invested in how others see me. I’m not sure how many days’ worth of humiliations it would take to train that out of me….perhaps nothing ever could!
The investments we make in how others see us is kind of like a stack of boxes we stand on as kids to reach something we want on a high shelf. It seems like a genius idea (Mom will never know!) until you lean too far and it all comes crashing down.
Maybe the point of a daily humiliation is to methodically pull those boxes out from under our feet until we’re finally standing on solid ground again. After all, pride goes before a fall!
Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011), p.128.
For Pondering & Prayer
Rohr uses the word “humiliation” to talk about an ego-breaking experience that helps us to stand less arrogantly before God and each other. Is that the right word – or would you choose another?
Can we ever divorce ourselves completely from our” need” to manage how others see us?