I have recently fallen upon the meaning of life, quite by accident. What I have learned is this; in a society where everything is about having it all, the secret of true happiness is simply humility. Humility is not a weakness to be loathed, although the way people often treat it is as such, nor is self-centeredness worthy of the worship it receives.
We try to do it all. To be all things to all people; to gain the respect and awe of others is central to our actions. We want to be Wonder Woman or Superman, not because it fulfills the needs of others, but because it makes us feel good about ourselves. I was like this. I never saw my narcissism for what it was until I gained the perspective of humility. I never saw the damage I was doing.
I went from wanting to be a loving wife and mother, who strove only to bring joy and happiness to her family, to being completely self-possessed. I would like to be able to blame it on the hormones from having three children in three years (all boys mind you), but the truth of the matter is that my expectations were too high.
At first it seemed all so simple. I relaxed on the couch. I took naps and bubble baths. I did all the laundry, folded it, and put it away. By the time my husband got home from work our apartment was spotless perfection.
Fast forward. Two years and two babies later, everything is chaos. I have become a cantankerous self-serving monster. My house is not clean despite my constant efforts. My husband and children are anything but happy and I have headaches from the stress of trying to make everything happen my way. I have become my own idol, and I lie crushed beneath terrible burdens of my own creation.
One Sunday we head off to church as usual. Until that day I had never equated a lack of humility with selfishness, but when the chaplain made just such a statement I froze. That was the pivotal moment. It clicked in my brain. I had become a selfish person. What if I let all that pride go? I had tried everything else! Could it be the answer I was so desperately seeking had fallen into my lap?
The results were almost immediate, and as they revealed themselves, I felt the dark cloud over me begin to dissipate. My husband and children changed for the better, but the biggest change I saw was in me. My priorities changed.
My house is cleaner than it has been in a long time, but the funny thing is I don’t remember cleaning it. My children want to snuggle with me more, and I no longer resent their demands. My husband actually volunteers to help me, without me having to nag. I feel renewed, and the headaches are gone. Humility has brought me everything I always wanted.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.