Do you ever get weary of our arrogant, bombastic culture; talking heads who “know it all” but just spew meaningless hot air? How did we get to the place where rude is cool, where one’s personal opinion is better than anyone else's, where “my way or no way” rules the day?! Our current president is a prime example of arrogance and haughtiness at its pinnacle – but he is only a symptom of much deeper corruption in our cultural values and social mores. As a society, we have created an environment which encourages and nourishers people like this to thrive. It wasn’t always this blatant though; and I believe there is a majority of us who are appalled and repulsed by it–at least I hope so!
I am appreciative of the process of time at work in my life (translated, I am getting old)! I have learned and experienced the power of patience, humility and grace–the three real cornerstones of success and a satisfied life! To borrow from John Lennon, “Imagine” what life would be like if these virtues prevailed and dominated our social conduct and interactions. Oh my, how different and delightful that would be!
The first of these pillars is patience; an attitude and behavior that is so contrary to our impulsive, impetuous, now-now-now thinking and acting. Yet, it is a healthy and freeing behavior! Wouldn’t you love to be described as “able to bear pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty; and steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity”? Patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power.
Reality check–stuff happens continuously which makes us frustrated and disjointed! Unfortunately, patience has gotten a bad rap for the wrong reasons. To many people, when you say, “Have patience,” it feels unreasonable and inhibiting, an unfair stalling of aspirations, some Victorian hang-up or hangover. Is this the way you think? Frustration prevents emotional freedom, but patience is a way to overcome frustration, revive your emotional life by making it your choice how you handle daily hassles and stresses. A favorite axiom of mine is, “Let patience have its full impact, that you will be complete and lacking nothing!”
Humility is widely under-rated in our culture. Our popular-media culture is saturated with themes of conflict, combat, and conquest. Popular films feature cops chasing crooks; the military fighting terrorists; the lone avenger pursuing the evil-doers. We say we love peacemakers, but all of our heroes are warriors. As a society, we like our celebrities to be cheeky, self-important, and narcissistic. To many, being humble is being a wimp, a doormat, a sucker, or letting people “walk all over you.” This is thinking about humility is untrue--its reality is quite the contrary. It takes more internal fortitude, guts and strength of character to be Humble, than to be swept away in the wave of cultural narcissism!
What is humility? It’s actually a very subtle concept. Humility is what you have when you give up certain self-aggrandizing thought patterns, reflexes and behaviors; humility is a kind of liberation, a paradoxical state of freedom from the culturally imposed norms of narcissistic “me-first” thinking. Humility is about emotional neutrality. It involves an experience of growth in which you no longer need to put yourself above others, but you don’t put yourself below them, either. Everyone is your peer–from the most “important” person to the least. You’re just as valuable as every other human being on the planet, no more and no less. It’s about behaving and reacting from purposes, not emotions.
Humility is a road to experiencing the joy of life not seen by those blinded by arrogance and selfishness!
I am sure most of us have sang or heard the stalwart theme of Christianity, “Amazing Grace”, but how many really understand the power and meaning of Grace? I like to describe grace through a contrast: Grace is getting some favor, gift or blessing you don’t deserve, contrasted to mercy–not receiving what you do deserve, (i.e., a stayed sentence or judgement). Grace is doing what is right and good without a motive or quid-quo-pro; but solely for the sake of being nice, helpful and caring. It is being driven by compassion, empathy and genuine concern for others, not self-aggrandizing thought patterns, reflexes, behaviors, or “what’s in it for me” thinking!
The power of Grace is the capacity to abandon judgement, overlook faults and embrace the uncomfortable for the benefit of others. It is the manifestation of Patience and Humility through life impacting actions. Grace cleanses and reinvigorates the soul, it gives meaning to our human existence and transforms our character into something better through every act. Grace is Amazing!
Patience, Humility and Grace are the foundation for success in the Human Services field–without them, there will be marginal success at best. Life is messy, people aren’t perfect and some are downright awful and repulsive. But when these three virtues are applied full strength, miracles can happen! Every day provides an opportunity to put Patience, Humility and Grace to work.
The Family Care Network has for over 31 years of serving the most challenging and challenged children, youth and families in our child welfare, probation and behavioral health system. We have achieved remarkable outcomes over that span of time–all attributable to Patience, Humility and Grace. We have been blessed with employees and volunteers who truly exemplify these transformative virtues, enabling them to be the difference in repairing broken lives.
I encourage all of us to make the effort to allow Patience, Humility and Grace to rule supreme in our lives, knowing it can only produce good! Be4kids. Be the Difference.