Be brave, because you are a child of God.
Be kind, because so is everyone else.
This is the benediction spoken at the end of every service at my church in Pacific Beach. For a while, it rang in my ears like every other truism in the spiritual arena: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
But I think this benediction encapsulates the exact balance we must strike between humility and healthy self-worth.
Humility is a word I’ve chewed over since my years in Catholic high school. Make yourself low. Put others before yourself. As a young person, this makes sense when you realize it feels better to give than receive.
Recently, I had to reframe my ideas around humility. To me, humility was connected to the “fallen” trope we’re told as Christians in both Catholic and Evangelical circles. We are broken. We come into the world broken, marked by original sin. We have fallen. We are inherently disposed toward evil. We need fixing. Jesus needs to fix us.
Humility is meant to acknowledge this lowliness, to recognize our innate brokenness so that we can open ourselves up to the healing power of Christ. Turn to any Christian radio station, and you’ll hear lines like, “Help me want the healer more than the healing,” as if Christ died only so we may swallow more pain.
I no longer believe this idea defines the true meaning of humility.