Friday, September 16, 2011

Failure Teaches Humility

Last night, I was up late again. Not so much because I was choosing to stay up late - although I may have been 20 minutes or so behind - but because my mind was racing and I could not fall asleep. I tried all my usual techniques. I relaxed my muscles individually. I counted Spanish sheep1. I forced my thoughts to focus on the stillness around me. That lasted about two minutes before my thoughts were racing again. Nothing was working. I could not fall asleep.

After too long of this, I was getting quite frustrated. Why can't I go to sleep, God? I thought. Don't you want me to be rested enough to do your will tomorrow? After I finally got past the blaming-God stage (one it seems I inevitably go through, fruitless though it always turns out to be), I finally switched gears and prayed differently. God, I can't do this. No matter what I try, I can't make myself go to sleep. I need you to do this for me, God. Please make me fall asleep.

Immediately I felt myself start to relax. Within ten minutes, I was asleep.

That's a box of wipes in the back. Doesn't everyone keep diaper-changing supplies on their bed?

The next morning, as part of my regular devotion, I discovered I was at Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican:
He then spoke this parable addressed to those who believed in their own self-righteousness while holding everyone else in contempt. "Two men went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee with head unbowed prayed in this fashion: 'I give you thanks, O God, that I am not like the rest of men - grasping, crooked, adulterous - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on all I possess.' The other man, however, kept his distance, not even daring to raise his eyes to heaven. All he did was beat his breast and say, 'O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.' Believe me, this man went home from the temple justified but the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

I have to come to appreciate the fact that God sends me things that I cannot handle myself, in order to humble me and remind me that I am dependent on Him for even the littlest things. However long I continue to try to do it myself, I continue to fail. Only when I turn to the Most High and ask him to do it for me, in me, do I start to see some progress. If it wasn't for these failures that God sends me, I would be that Pharisee priding myself on being better than everyone around me; I see myself well enough to know that for the truth. So, unpleasant though it is, I accept these failures as being for my own good.

And next time, I can turn to God right away, and spare myself the trouble of fighting His will.

1. I don't really picture sheep. But after counting backwards (over the course of months) from the present to about 2500 or 3000 BC, it occurred to me that counting in Spanish might be good practice to help me learn the numbers. I'm currently on quinientos sesenta y dos, I think.

1 comment:

  1. "I have to come to appreciate the fact that God sends me things that I cannot handle myself, in order to humble me and remind me that I am dependent on Him for even the littlest things."

    Yes, so true! I think about this whenever I lose my temper at my kids. If I were a perfect parent, I would have so much pride and self-righteous judgment about others. But luckily, I'm incredibly sinful so I know if my kids turn out sane, it's God's work and not mine! :P