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Hollow Humility



My husband and I both agree: I’m better at our finances. So I do them. He doesn’t ask questions, never looks at statements, and has no idea what any of the passwords on any of our accounts are. I have almost complete control over them—and don’t be mistaken, am thrilled that he trusts me so much.

The problem is this: I see a new shirt I really love that isn’t in the budget and begin to think, It’s not my fault he never asks. With time, the urge to buy it becomes stronger. My logic convinces me that I’m entitled to a treat, so I spend the extra cash and quickly get rid of the tags to prove its new! As my guilty conscience pulls the new shirt over my head and down my arms, I say to myself, If he wanted to know, he should be more involved.

I know. It’s terrible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with it.

Some days the guilt sticks around. Other days, I’ll strut around in my new shirt, catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and admit that it was indeed a cute shirt. I don’t spend us into oblivion, we don’t have debt, and I’m great at saving. The issue isn’t whether or not I can do the finances. I do them well. The issue is my desire to buy a shirt without having to buy my husband one, too.

Entitlement and selfish desires. In my life, it’s the stuff pride stems from on a regular basis.

It’s my prayer that God would humble me and align my integrity and desires with His heart. I look for ways to be more gentle spirited and opportunities to concede kind words or actions into others’ lives. And I do OK—until I start trying to surrender the gifts and talents God has given me. Not finances, but the ones I’m actually passionate about: writing, speaking, and mentoring. My writing is the biggest struggle. I am constantly comparing myself and ripping apart my own words. See I tend to get humility and self-devaluation totally confused.

Unlike the self-portrait I painted with our finances, I don’t sit on my high-horse named “Perfection” all the time. After only a couple days, she tires of carting me around. When Perfection dumps me, it’s usually at Borders, in The New York Times Bestseller section. All my giftedness is nothing when I get a real glimpse of myself in the mirror of a bestselling book.

My hours of writing and revising, the depth of love I have for all the characters birthed in the chasms of my mind are NOTHING in The New York Times Bestseller section. Inside Borders, this writing passion of mine burns like a Tahoe burns gas: A few short minutes pass, and there is nothing left. I think to myself, This isn’t my reality. I’m not good enough to EVER make it here. The enormously creative words that were choreographed by highly intelligent women dance off the pages, seeming to say, “Unlike you, these women obviously received an extra measure of purpose and skill in their life.” I leave the section slightly depressed and try to cheer myself up by visualizing a jack hammer unleashing its wrath on my laptop. Oh, if only I were good enough.

That sentence echoes through my mind and sucks purpose from my life: I’m just not good enough. But that’s not humility, that’s undermining the gifts God has given me, and it steals my desire to continue to cultivate and develop these passions.

My “woe is me” season of depression lasts until payday when I get a small kick out of spending secret cash again. My high horse called Perfection and I ride off into the sunset, otherwise known as Target.

I’ve tried to turn this cycle into some sort of exact formula to predict my own behaviors. Maybe if I never went to another book store again and refuse all paychecks by taking a complete vow of poverty …

Or what if I learned to stop having pride in the skills I have learned—such as finances—and instead take refuge and security in the passions God has revealed to me? I have so much confidence in myself until it comes to the areas God is asking me to devote to Him. Then I shy away, scared that I will have nothing to offer, unable to grasp the meaning behind humbly submitting that gift to the Giver and trusting that if it’s His to give, it must be good enough.

But maybe I’m selfishly rambling, assuming that what happens to me is relevant to you. So, what about you? What are you passionate about? When do you feel the most alive? What is holding you back from pursuing that passion with complete abandon? How can you face your giants—remembering that mine is named The New York Times Bestseller section—and walk away with your gifts still humbly intact?

God is teaching me to have a shift in my perspective. To redefine humility. What does that mean exactly? Well, while there are no immediate plans for me to hand off our finances to someone else, I must move away from those things I can do in my own strength. The control I have over them tempts me to be prideful. I must move toward the things that help fulfill the purpose He has given me in life, continually seeking Him for the strength to move forward when my inadequacy and fears arise. I must rely on God if I desire to live within the passionate life He has revealed to me.

Do you know what I’m the most excited about? And no, it’s not another new shirt. I can’t wait to see what happens as my dreams come true. Everyday offers an opportunity to step further into my purpose, and my purpose is God’s future. I pray that I’m able to leave the parts of myself that feel entitled behind—they are just extra baggage—and instead bring with me the parts that confidently step into The New York Times Bestseller section knowing that God’s gifts are good enough.

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Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

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Hollow Humility

by Marian Green time to read: 5 min