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Life is a long lesson in humility

By Mary Regina Morrell
Catholic Online

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” Phil. 2:1-4

Getting together with friends is a great time for “top this” stories. Lately, it seems, the stories revolve around our most embarrassing moments.

I am still laughing from the story about my friend who went to a local fast food eatery and ordered half a roasted chicken.

“What side?” the young man behind the counter queried.

With a puzzled look on her face she stood silently, mulling the question over and thinking to herself, “What side?? Does it really matter if it’s the left side or the right side?”

The young man was on the verge of eye-rolling when she burst out laughing, realizing that he was asking which side-dish she wanted with her chicken.

They both had a good chuckle.

Yesterday, I imagined the insurance agent on the other end of the phone line had the same look on her face when I called to ask a question about my new insurance card.

I had just changed to GEICO but my insurance card read Government Employees Insurance Company.

“I was just wondering if my policy was being managed by someone other then Geico,” I said to her, “since there’s another company name on my card.”

She graciously suppressed a laugh, “That is GEICO,” she explained patiently. “That’s the full name of the company.”

After my own few seconds of embarrassed silence we both started laughing. She assured me that I was not the only person to have the same question, but I felt stupid none-the-less. “Life is a long lesson in humility,” wrote Scottish novelist James Matthew Barrie, best known as the creator of Peter Pan.

“And don’t I know it!” my very wise friend of the half-chicken would acknowledge.

And wise she is because she has allowed each humbling moment to form her in humility and love. Such wisdom is hard won, our pride and self-assurance chipped away by a life-time of humbling moments, to be replaced by an assurance of God’s will and plan for us.

Accepting and learning from these humbling experiences, rather than denying or covering up our mistakes, is a sign of maturity and a path to true humility which is reflected by a strength of character never possessed by the arrogant or proud.

Personally, having had my share of chipping going on, it is comforting to believe that there is a gift inherent in this formation process -- that gift being the reminder that, as human beings, we are imperfect. We make mistakes like everyone else because we are not God.

In other words, Bernard Baily’s words to be exact, “When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it.”

Such a realization, whether is comes through tiny whittlings or in large chunks, has the potential to begin our most profound spiritual journey.


Diocese of Metuchen  NJ, US
Mary Regina Morrell - Associate Director, Office of Religious Education, 732 562-1990



life, lesson, humility, chicken

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