Humility is not for the faint of heart

For Father George the Humble.

It was a stupid idea. What was I thinking?
Something had been bugging me for months. I knew God wanted me to take my faith to a deeper level and I was pretty sure it had something to do with humility. The prospect didn’t thrill me.
After months of ignoring God, I finally acknowledged His not-so-gentle nudging. Okay, it was more like an affectionate shove.
And thus it happened that on a Tuesday in November, I began to pray an extremely dangerous prayer. I asked God to strip me of pride and teach me humility.
I do not recommend this prayer unless you have nerves of steel and a touch of insanity.
Praying for humility is like praying for patience: the only way it comes about is through hardship. I knew the risks but I did it anyway. “Please, God,” I prayed each day, “strip me of pride and teach me humility.”
Almost immediately, things began to go wrong.
I developed excruciating arthritis in a dozen joints. I bought a cane to help me walk, and even then, I was hunched over in pain. I got a handicapped tag for my car. My husband and I quickly realized that if we couldn’t find an effective treatment, I was headed for a wheelchair.
At the same time, I developed a skin disease that covered 70% of my body. One day when I was climbing into the local pool to swim laps, a group of moms saw my leprous body and pulled their children out of the pool. I looked that bad.
The arthritis in my fingers grew so severe that I couldn’t open a can, unscrew a lid, or tie a child’s shoe.
It didn’t stop there. Thyroid disease. Neurological impairment. Crushing fatigue.
The roof began to leak. My car’s transmission died.
Then the worst affliction hit: I developed bipolar disorder, a mental illness thought to be caused by chemical fluctuations in the brain. Nothing humbles you like a mental illness.
Medications to manage these ailments caused side effects including insomnia, mental dullness and intense thirst. My slight frame packed on 50 lbs. I developed a tremor. Putting on mascara became a dangerous mission.
And yet I continued to grit my teeth and ask God to strip me of pride and teach me humility. If the hardships assailing me were any indication, God seemed to be taking my prayer seriously.
As time progressed, it occurred to me that becoming humble is not a one-time thing, like getting a Social Security number. It’s more like taking a bath; no matter how good a job I do today, I’ll have to do it again tomorrow. This means I’ll never arrive; I will spend my entire life on the journey.
Despite these truths, I added a second prayer. I began asking God to make me holy, whatever the cost.
Talk about a stupid prayer.
With the addition of this second prayer, I expect to be assailed by plagues of serpents and frogs, and hailstones the size of toasters. If you don’t hear from me for a while, there’s a good chance I’m buried under a mound of hungry locusts.
But hey, at least I’ll be humble.