I had the opportunity at a recent function to introduce my colleagues and their families. I gave a brief bio for each, including pointing out their children in the audience.
Except that it wasn’t until the program had moved on that I realized I had completely forgotten to acknowledge the children of the last family introduced! I wouldn’t be up at the microphone again for some time, so I had to wait until the end of the evening to apologize for my oversight and give a special acknowledgement to the young boy and teenage girl…who then stood and received a special ovation just for them.
Afterwards, both the parents and the kids were gracious to me concerning my omission. And it’s turned out to provide me with an illustration of a popular biblical concept: he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Granted, the young boy and girl didn’t really humble themselves…I sort of imposed it on them! Though in actual fact, they were humble. They could have jumped up right at the moment of being overlooked and screamed and waved their hands to protest the indignation of being forgotten.
But they didn’t. They sat there at peace for the next hour, until I had the chance to remedy my mistake.
And they were rewarded as they stood by themselves and received the applause of all in attendance. Special recognition just for them. But they had to wait for it. And they had to suffer through the feeling of being forgotten first.
I don’t like to be forgotten. I still carry deeply some memories of feeling like I was overlooked.
When I have considered the principle of humbling myself, I have generally thought of resisting saying prideful things, giving preference to others, etc. I don’t know that I have so readily considered guarding my responses to perceived injustices. I don’t know that I have normally considered how I roll with having humility foisted upon me through the omissions of others.
But this young boy and teenage girl have provided a model for me, a reminder that in walking a life of humility, I cannot ignore the state of my heart when it responds to unfavorable circumstances.
It hurts to be forgotten. It wounds our ego. It challenges our self-image and self-worth.
But applause usually feels pretty good.
Am I willing to tolerate the worldly discomfort that often accompanies humility, that I might later enjoy the reward? And am I yet willing to tolerate the discomfort, even if the expected elevation and recognition doesn’t come in the way or at the time that I expect? As I had humility foisted upon me, am I also content to let others provide the exaltation, rather than ensuring for myself that it takes place?
The kids–perhaps without great intentionality, simply as a fruit of their character and wise upbringing–demonstrated that they could indeed tolerate the humility and the acknowledgement.
Would I walk so well in being forgotten, and then applauded?