For a long time, I thought humility was best expressed when someone pointed their finger elsewhere when they were glorified in some way and when they downplayed their accomplishments. I thought it was when someone never talked about themselves or the great things they did. So when I saw people who would divert a compliment given to them or shift the credit to someone else or better yet, “give God the glory”, I would think, This person’s so humble! And because I valued humility, I’d do the same thing. And then I went home and felt good about myself – both about doing the thing that was complimented and also for being so humble about it.
But I don’t think this is really humility.
I think humility is the ability to embrace myself in my fullness — the good, the bad and the ugly. And always keeping the three at bay. Humility is knowing that I cannot do it all but that I can do a lot. No matter how great a thing I’ve done, I am aware of the darkness in myself enough to know that I can mess it up just as much. No matter how much wrong I’ve inflicted, I am aware that I am redeemable and that I am a deeper well than this wrong. I can acknowledge an accomplishment, even if it is my own, but I don’t ever have to blow it out of proportion because I embrace it for what it is. I can also acknowledge my faults and don’t have to be defensive about it. I can acknowledge someone else’s fault and not have to discourage them for it, since I know that I am capable of the same thing.
I can claim the good, bad and ugly knowing I somehow embody them all. This is humility.