Humility or Humiliation?
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
I had just finished my airport snack/lunch-in-a-box. In about thirty minutes, my husband and I would board the airplane for home, so I took a short walk. But as I passed the area where I’d purchased the lunch snack, something clicked in my brain. I spied that same boxed lunch behind the glass doors—and noted the price again. Hmm.
Earlier I had given the clerk $20.00 for a $6.50 purchase. And then it hit me. All I remembered returning to my husband afterward was $5.00 plus a few folded dollar bills—the change from that clerk. But wait a minute. She must have shortchanged me. I should have received a ten-dollar bill instead of a five.
Thinking it would only take a few minutes, I impulsively darted up to the counter. This was a good opportunity to retrieve the money owed me from the clerk’s mistake. I waited until the line emptied, then confronted her with my facts. She reluctantly agreed to check it out, first searching for the receipt from my earlier purchase, since she hadn’t given me one earlier. When that didn’t reveal the necessary information, she called for help and a key to the cash register. A line of impatient customers formed behind me, eager to grab their food before takeoff.
“I’m auditing,” the clerk explained, motioning for the customers to join another long line at the end of the mini-store.
Wondering what she’d do next, I felt my five-foot-nine stature shrinking as the woman began to methodically count every bill and every coin in her register. When others tried to line up behind me, I whispered, “Audit,” from the corner of my mouth, careful to hide my reddening face.
Precious minutes clicked by, as boarding time grew closer. I wanted to leave, to tell her, “Forget it!” but couldn’t find the words. So I waited. And waited. And waited.
About twenty-five minutes later, the lady announced her findings. With amazing politeness, she told me, “One penny off.”
I couldn’t believe it, so I asked her to explain. When she uttered the same words again, I waved my hand away in disbelief and left, disgusted. I offered no words of apology for inconveniencing her and other staff. No thank you for checking into the problem. Nothing. The register must be off. I barely made it back in time to my seat before we lined up to board.
Later on the airplane, questions nagged me: What if she was right and I was wrong? Was it worth it? What did I just do? I’m fairly certain God spoke to my heart and convinced me I had made a huge mistake. After all, I hadn’t really taken the time to carefully count my change. Besides, computers and cash registers don’t usually lie. I closed my eyes and tried to dismiss my failure and pride. Unfortunately, I would have no opportunity to apologize to the woman for my mistake and my rude behavior. But I did ask God’s forgiveness.
As if to emphasize that conclusion, God began to walk me gently through the times I’d repeated that same error and exhibited that same character trait in my own marriage: incidents when I thought I was right, and my husband was wrong—only to discover the facts later proved otherwise. In almost every situation I had seen only my perspective, trusting my memory, and not even entertaining another possibility.
We’ve both experienced those kinds of situations in our marriage. We’ve both owned up to our own mistakes and admitted those hard words to each other: “I could be mistaken.” “You could be right.” “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” “Will you forgive me?” God has been patient to teach us, and we’ve learned from those experiences. But the learning never stops.
Pride can sneak up on our marriage when we’re least expecting it and catch us unprepared. Fear of embarrassment, of admitting our mistakes, of feeling stupid or appearing inferior can give us short-term memory loss and make us jump to wrong conclusions. God tells us the very act of pride will leave us humiliated.
We can, however, respond with humility, even when we realize our wrong behavior. And humility will bring honor in the end. Continually giving in to arrogant pride leads not only to a crash, but to a hard fall from which we may have difficulty recovering: First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall (Proverbs 16:18 MSG).
Pride shatters and tears; humility heals and repairs. Pride leaves enemies in its wake; humility makes lifelong partners and friends. Pride deceives; humility reveals. Pride builds walls; humility creates bridges. Pride brings disgrace; humility offers wisdom (Proverbs 11:2 NIV).
Because we’re human, we’ll make mistakes in our marriage. But when we can admit them and our pride to each other and to God, He can bring not only healing, but honor—to our marriage and to Himself.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. She has authored and contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. She is a regular Crosswalk contributor whose daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is also available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can sign up for Rebecca’s free ebook and find out more about her and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
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