In Opposition? : Humility and Boldness

1 Peter 5:6-7 (HCSB)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

Hebrews 4:16

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

 

Just prior to everything that’s currently happening and telecommuting began, I was sitting at my work desk and caught sight of the two Bible passages above written in faded ink and taped to one of my monitors. They are two of my favorite and most encouraging passages in the Scriptures, and it suddenly struck me that they seem to encourage what appear to be opposite traits – humility and boldness. I sat staring at them and thinking, “Can you be both humble and bold?”

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines humility as “freedom from pride or arrogance; the quality or state of being humble.” Further, it explains that “both [humility] and humble have their origin in the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.”” Suggested synonyms include meekness, lowliness, and down-to-earthness. I particularly like that last one. None of this is popular in today’s culture – the “let me step over your still warm body so I can succeed where you failed” culture.

Then I looked up the definition of boldness, and it was defined as “fearless before danger” and “showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit.” Some of the synonyms are confident, intrepid, adventurous, and gutsy. Intrepid was appealing to me as it is defined as “characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance.” This is a prized character trait in today’s “you only live once” or “do what makes you happy” culture.

How do we make the two fit together and still uphold the teaching to put others before self? How do we practice humility before God and yet approach Him boldly?

The last couple of years, I’ve been trying to remind myself of the true power of God. I’ve been trying to stop boxing God in to my narrow-minded view of the world. I’ve been knocking the walls down to see just what God can do instead of keeping God in a small, tight space. This requires humility on my part – the acknowledgement that God can do things that I can’t even begin to imagine – the acknowledgement that I am just one tiny piece in the workings of this life – and that’s okay. All I can do right now is take care of the space where I am, but it’s something in God’s plan even if it’s not what I had expected.

In the midst of writing this blog, I was listening to an older sermon from Crosspoint Church in Nashville. Pastor Kevin Queen did a sermon in 2019 on “Sacrificial Living,” and I was thankful for the God-wink.

He said some things that got me to thinking:

“To deny yourself is to die to self every single day…to die to what we want…to die to our selfish agenda…to love God and serve others. […]

If you want to follow Jesus, you have to attend about a thousand funerals a day, and they’re all funerals for what you want. […]

…we find that the blessing and the benefit of the life of following Jesus comes when we make the sacrifices, and it’s counterintuitive to the way of this world. But it’s the way of the kingdom. […]

Romans 12:3 (HCSB)

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

Romans 12:16 (HCSB)

Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Christlikeness begins and ends in humility.”

How does this leave any room for boldness?

I’ve been muddling this concept over in my head for a few weeks almost afraid to complete the blog, but then I picked up my pen (yes, the old-fashioned pen and paper) and started to write again.

Even as I wrote about humility, I had to ask myself why a humble person can’t be bold, fearless, daring, intrepid, resolute, courageous, confident, or enduring? Why can’t a humble person exercise fortitude? The answer came to me that there’s no reason why a humble person can’t be those things. I went to BibleGateway.com and searched for references on boldness and confidence, and there are no shortage of them in the Bible just as there are no shortage of references to humility and meekness.

Here is what I realized. Humility is about keeping our perspective on God in proper alignment. God comes first, and all our actions should stem from that. Consequently, we can move forward with boldness, confidence, fearlessness, resolution, courage, endurance, and fortitude. It is all about how we frame God in the process. He always needs to be at the center of our humility, or we won’t be truly practicing Christlike behavior. The same applies to our boldness. If we move forward in boldness or confidence without maintaining God as our center, we’re doing it for our own selfish reasons. In other words, we’re just living like everyone else.

So what does humble boldness look like? It looks like Ruth believing in her new faith and God as she went boldly to ask Boaz to protect her and her mother-in-law. It looks like Esther humbly accepting that she may be executed for boldly asking the king to save her people. It looks like Daniel humbly and boldly praying to God and entering (and exiting) the lions’ den. It looks like Rosa Parks, tired from a long humble day at work, boldly deciding she wasn’t going to give way in the face of racism. It looks like the boss of a small business who cares about his/her employees in a pandemic and boldly decides to keep paying them even when he/she doesn’t know from where the money will come.

Humble boldness is keeping your eye on the right ball even when several are being thrown in the air at once. It’s knowing when to say yes and when to say no, when to accept and when to walk away, when to stop and when to keep going. Keeping my faith in God at the center of my being points my compass in the right direction. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get where I’m going, but I always get there in the proper time.

Welcome to My Headspace

 

“It’s going to be one of those days. The voices in my head are fighting, my imaginary friend is running with scissors, and at one point, one of my personalities wandered of.” ~Meme found on Pinterest

 I’m having one of those days. Actually, I have one of those days quite frequently. They aren’t days that turn out well. They are days that make me feel like a fraction of the person that I am. They are days that just make me want to quit on life. They are days where I just want to curl up on my bed at home and not go out to meet the world. They are days where I want to pretend the world and a lot of people just don’t exist. It’s one of those days for various reasons.

I’m having one of those days where I feel completely invisible, and I don’t want to be invisible today. Somedays I don’t mind being invisible, but today I want to be seen. However I’m not the kind of person who likes to make a spectacle of herself so I don’t know how to fix it.

I’m having one of those days where I’m feeling completely alone, but I don’t want to be alone today. I have never mastered the skill that some women possess of harvesting attention from men, but today is one of those days where I could stand to be noticed by one. Instead I’m one of those women that is never picked, and while I understand some of the reasons why (and I’m working on those things), I don’t understand how I’ve gotten this far in life without attracting some man that wanted to stick around long enough to get to know me better.

I’m having one of those days where my life feels completely on hold. Everyone else’s life is moving at a wonderful pace, but mine seems to be sitting still. So many of my friends are married, have children, work dream jobs/careers, and do amazing things, and I’m just sitting here trying to figure out is this as good as my life is going to get? Should I go back to school? Should I change jobs? Am I missing some fundamental thing that other people comprehend that makes their lives better?

I’m having one of those days where I’m ready to look at my boss and say, “Forget this! I’m done!” The job isn’t fulfilling, and I’m wondering just what I’m doing here sometimes. Is this all I’m qualified to do, or am I not giving myself credit for what I already do and what I know I can do?

I’m having one of those days where I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of moving forward, but I’m afraid of going back. I’m afraid of being alone, but I’m afraid of loving someone. I’m afraid of being invisible, but I’m afraid of being seen. I’m afraid of change, but I’m afraid of staying the same.

 

“I don’t feel like I should have days.” ~Grace (played by Minnie Driver) speaking to her heart doctor after her successful heart replacement surgery, Return to Me 

But I’m also having one of those days where I’m tired of all the voices in my headspace. I’m tired of the negativity. What if what is wrong with my life is that I’m not thinking positively enough? I’m tired of my own lack of movement and development. What if I need to decide which direction to move so I can head that way? I’m tired of thinking my job is a dead end. What if it’s an open door, but I’m looking at it from the wrong angle?

What if all I need to do is take a leap of faith? It wouldn’t be the first time that God has asked me to do that. I’ve done it before, but what makes me so fearful this time is that I know all the things that can go wrong. I can reason myself to within an inch of my life, and then I take all the joy out of everything around me. I can take a beautiful sunny day and turn it to something like a black hole in my head where it just begins to suck everything wonderful in until joy doesn’t exist anymore in my headspace.

I had the privilege of hearing my younger cousin speak on fear and anxiety in church Sunday morning. She read from Matthew 6:25-34, which talks about all the things we shouldn’t worry about because we don’t have control of them anyways. That’s the scary thing to so many people. They want to believe that they have control of everything…but we don’t. We control very little in this world…if anything.

So today, I’m cleaning out my headspace. I’m pulling out the broom, the mop, the dust rags, the Pine Sol, the window cleaner, the squeegee, the sponge, the air freshener, the vacuum, and anything else I need to clean house. My headspace is going to look, smell, and feel better because it is one area that I can control right now. I can control what I think, what I feel, where I focus, what I see, what I do, and who I love. I might not be able to control timing, but I can control what I do while I wait.

So to boost me up today, I’m thinking of what my cousin read and adding some verses of my own:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)