When we struggle to find personal humility, we can ride roughshod over others. Kendyl condescended on her husband as he struggled to finish his graduate education. She tells her story.
My husband Jim was facing the comprehensive exams for his PhD, and when the time came to take the exams, he didn’t take them—he put them off. He felt he wasn’t ready and didn’t know enough; I felt that he had procrastinated and hadn’t worked hard enough to prepare. I was incredibly judgmental of him, because I am a person to whom deadlines are sacred. I even became physically ill because I felt so alienated by what I perceived as Jim’s failure—I felt that it reflected on me, and I felt ashamed that he missed the deadline.
I feel that my failure to exercise humility in relationship with my husband caused damage to our relationship at the time, though I know he has since forgiven me. I was the one who “failed.” I deeply regret not being humble enough to encourage, support, and stand along side my husband during this stressful time in his life and in our marriage.
I define humility as recognizing the goodness in another person, not inflating one’s sense of self-worth by deflating another’s and not judging another person harshly by one’s own standards. Humility is egalitarian—it says that we are on the same level, and we can help each other out sacrificially. Humility allows God to work through me to help another.
The opposite of humility is pride. I define it as a self-centered, self-seeking vice that does not seek the good of the other but only the good of the self. Pride is hierarchical—it says that I am better than you, and my needs are the only ones that matter. Pride says that I am godlike in comparison to you, and I don’t need any help.
Kendyl’s story shares a common tale. We have expectations in relationships, and when friends fall short of our ideals, we have a decision to make. A knee jerk reaction is to judge and blame, however a more serving response requires us to listen, understand and support.
Kendyl's story is in Chapter 4 of The Relationship Project.
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Bill Strom, Author
I am a believer by faith, a professor by vocation, a husband by choice, a father by blessing, and a friend by hanging out. Along the way I have learned about close relating through my experiences, biblical models, and social science research. Hopefully my ideas and encouragement show up here in ways meaningful to you.