Thursday, May 11, 2006


Throughout my life, there have been so many people who believed in me, who believed in my intelligence and my abilities, and I was completely unable to understand why. I fall short so often, and I'm convinced that I'm not nearly as able as everyone seems to think I am. I've always hated compliments, imagining them to be impossible standards that I had to live up to. Sometimes I wonder: what if I didn't really earn any of my accomplishments? What if I have only gotten as far as I have because of affirmative action? What if I only got good grades because I sat in the front row and was never rude? What if people only think I'm smart because I look and act like the stereotypical nerd?

Other times, I begin to think that I did earn all this. I begin to take pride in what I've done, and I begin to see myself as an intelligent and hard-working student.

Listening to people talk about the importance of self-esteem, I'd think that I should be working on the second attitude. I should be proud of my accomplishments, right? But as a Christian, I am called to humility. This conflict begins to seem like a conflict between pride and humility, but is it really? When I go deeper, I find that this self-confidence and this lack of confidence are just two different forms of pride.

When I consider the gifts that God has given to me, I find that true humility does not deny my natural abilities, but rather recognizes that they come from God and that all accomplishments - academic and not only spiritual - therefore can only happen by His grace.

Then as my heart is moved toward humility, I begin to see something even buried even farther down. Throughout my life, I have had times where I am convinced that I am not smart enough, not good enough, not diligent enough to do all that I want to do. If I am learning to trust God in my spiritual life and my relationships, so too should I trust His will for my career. I can say nothing about whether I am intelligent enough to become a professor at an ivy league school... or any school for that matter. What I can trust in is that He has made me every bit as smart as I need to be to do His work. What, then, do I have to fear?

And now I see once more that this is where true meekness and humility lie - not in believing myself and my abilities to be nothing, but in knowing myself to be nothing without Christ and everything with Him, in trusting that He has created me for a purpose and that, by His grace, that purpose is being fulfilled daily. Meekness lies in having confidence, rooted in Christ, that is unafraid to fight each daily battle against my fear, my pride, my laziness, knowing that the war has already been won. Humility, above all, lies in never being ashamed to cry out, "Oh Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God, who fell three times on the way of the cross, pick me up again, and allow me to share also in your life!"

God has promised that in quiet and in confidence lies our strength. Confidence! I do not want self-confidence. I do not want self-deprecation. I desire only confidence that takes Christ's love as the foundation and purpose of my entire life: body, mind, and soul. In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux: "We can never have too much confidence in the Good God, He is so mighty, so merciful. As we hope in Him so shall we receive."

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