Humility vs. Humiliation

Being humble is not the same thing as being humiliated.

Let me repeat…

Being humble is not the same thing as being humiliated.

Now before you all stare at me in confusion and nod slowly for lack of a better response to my redundancy, allow me to explain.

Humility, or being humble, is rooted in the heart. It is a realistic view of who God is and who you are; of what He did by humbling Himself to hang on a cross for you and the attitude you should have towards others in light of that. You and I, we are sinners, scum and rebels. And our merciful Lord gave up His glory to allow men like us to slay Him. And so, to have a Christ like attitude, I need to give up any ‘glory’ that I might think I’m entitled to in order to serve others.

Humility will start in the heart and will work its way out.

Humiliation, or being humiliated, is an external situation. Some time or place where you might have some or no control. And in this situation, you feel shame, remorse, embarrassment, fear, maybe even anger. It leaves you fumbling inside. It sends all your thoughts spiraling as your body reacts without your consent, a wave of heat flooding up your neck and face, quickening your heart, and running little shakes through your insides. You feel small and stupid and want to go hide under the dark covers of your bed, hoping that everyone else will forget, or that you will forget, at least enough to ease this feeling resting in your gut and this taste in your mouth.

Humiliation begins on the outside and pushes it’s way in.

And having all those feelings, a reaction to something you may not have had any chance of doing differently, that is not humility. That’s pride; straight up; don’t even kid yourself.

The reason I feel all this junk is because my pride is angry about being pricked and I’m zeroing in on myself. “What do people think about me now? How will others treat me in the future?” It will tag along and bite at me again when I’m in this place or when I see that person or when I’m simply thinking about other things and my flesh brings it up again because it wants to have a pity party. Woo-hoo. Some party.

Lately I’ve struggled with my words. Not necessarily saying anything bad, definitely not sin. But failing to think it through and ending up looking like the fool because I’m not up to date, or I’m not snarky and clever, or because I maybe just should have phrased something differently in order to get my point across. And when I say these things, I get the rush of blood inside my ears and the little voice within my head that says, “Tsk, tsk. Stupid girl. You should just keep your mouth shut, you idiot.”

When I feel it coming, I can do one of two things. I can be humiliated, letting the situation push in on me and alter my feelings in a way that focus on self. Or, I can go to ground, centering in on the perspective that God has given me through my salvation, and push outward, forcing the truth to shove away the emotions that try to counter it and pray for the right feelings to fill up that thundering heart of mine that’s galloping away with me.

How can I pray about this? After all, it could be any number of things that send my mind and guts a whirling. So let’s cover our bases…

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

There. Ask Him to know your heart, know your feelings. Ask Him to lead you.

You might be in a place where you start to feel junk creeping in over something big or small, something you blundered, or something others did/said/implied (even a face can cut us to the heart). You might have an encroaching thought of something you did ‘way back when’ that still makes you cringe.

These feelings, the ones that come washing over you in waves, threatening to make you stumble, make you trip, make you tired, make you fall backwards with them… know that they aren’t humility. And, while God might use them to teach you, to train you to have a right perspective of Him and you, this isn’t what God wants you to dwell upon. He wants your heart; all of it, for always; everyday. He wants you to know the truth and rest in it. He wants you to give up your heart and feelings, and follow in His example. He wants you to be humble, as He was humble.

Are you humble, starting on the inside and working out? Or are you humiliated, starting on the outside and sinking in?

That, my darling friend, is the difference.


Sarah J.


photo credits: Jamie Titus






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