My Hoodie of Humility
Autumn has arrived. Hoodie wearing time is here. But I am already wearing my hoodie. It is the one I wear all year. It is my spiritual hoodie of compassion, kindness, patience and more. It is my hoodie of humility. Wearing it, I become it. It looks and feels good. It is good. It comforts me and empowers me. It's a beautiful thing.
The comfort of compassion....
"Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
- Colossians 3:12 NIV
I have a sweatshirt. It has a hood. Finely crafted with the comfort of compassion, it feels real good. I feel compassion from above and compassion from within. When I put it on, I feel the compassion that is all around me, and I see it in action. I see the many opportunities to show compassion and to give comfort, but I see also the many opportunities that I have missed or neglected.
Feelings of compassion often arise naturally in response to the hardships and difficulties of others, but I sometimes mistakenly believe that there are people out there who have no need of my compassion due to what I perceive to be their higher status and their self importance, and others who are not worthy of my compassion because of what seems to me their laziness and their unwillingness to help themselves. Concerned with my own worries, I sometimes see the woes of others as being trivial or petty. But I know that compassion is a feeling, and it is difficult to feel compassion for myself when I have little feelings toward others. I may also hold back on the compassion, thinking that my concerns are more important than those of others. But then I remind myself that compassion is also a gift, a gift from a loving God. I also remember that compassion involves action, and when I act in compassionate ways, the compassion I feel inside me becomes that much stronger.
So I put on my hoodie and I look to show compassion even when it does not come quite so naturally. It is compassion on purpose, and it does not take long for it to become once again a strong natural feeling. I get a strong desire to assist others in some way, any way that I can. It begins with kindness and works it s way out from there. I speak comfort; I let go of harsh attitudes and anger, and as one thing leads to another, doing these things, I find myself being more patient and more gentle. There is no need to hold back on the compassion because I know it is going to keep on coming, helping me to see, opening my eyes to the many opportunities and the very many ways to show compassion and to be kind.
With a cheerful look and a kind word, or perhaps even a bad joke or two, I share the kindness that I feel. I return kindness with kindness, and unkindness with kindness. I show kindness to those who I may otherwise easily become angry with because of some disagreement, not liking much the way they do things, not sharing their point of view. But remembering that I am wearing my kind and compassionate humble hoodie, I see that the person standing in front of me, or any other person is more important than any attitude or viewpoint.
Kindness may sometimes require a little patience, but by putting on my hoodie, I am also putting on patience and gentleness, and I get to feel these things, bringing them to life. And wearing them, I bring them with me. I am patient with others and I am patient with myself. I am patient with situations and tasks. I remind myself that those who are closest to me may be the ones in most need of my patience, but I must also see when I am being the one who is behaving in ways that require the patience of others. Being patient may sometimes require me is to slow down somewhat. Slowing to show some kindness and compassion can be quite refreshing and calming, and it is at these times when I am more likely to recognize when someone is trying to be kind and patient with me, times that I otherwise may have missed. I slow down and truly listen to what others are saying, finding in their words more reasons to feel compassion. I slow down and I look. I slow down and I listen.When I slow down, I notice some things, like the abundance of compassion and kindness that already exists in this wonderful world. And I am deeply humbled by this.
Our jackets of gentleness....
We Are What We Wear
When I practice kindness and compassion, I become kind and caring. And this is true for all of us. When we wear it, we become it. We approach people or situations with a little more patience, becoming a bit more forgiving. These are all noble virtues and they, like my hoodie, have a common thread, and that thread is humility.
Humility is a feeling, a deep and true feeling of reverence towards the higher powers from which these things arise. We honor these powers and defer to their wisdom and guidance, while also seeing and feeling them in ourselves. The more power we feel, the more humility we also feel because true humility comes with the absence of arrogance and pride. Humility is often described as lowliness, but it is more like a rising, rising above our need to look for fault in others, rising above our own foibles, like believing we are better or higher than others.
Humility is not lowliness; it is holiness. But it is not of the 'holier than thou' variety because it is seeing also those higher powers in everyone. Humility possesses the holiness of the giving type, even if the only thing we have to give is our compassion, kindness and patience. Putting on our hoodies, coats or jackets of gentleness, we take it easy on ourselves and others. And the more power we feel, the more patient and gentle we become. We look toward those higher powers; we look to God; we look to Christ, and what we see is love.
"And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
- Colossians 3:14 NIV
We all know that love is patient and love is kind. When we are in a loving state, we cannot be angry or envious. We are forgiving and thankful. We are thankful for all the kindness and compassion that we receive, and for the power that enables us to keep it all coming, and to give it all away. Love is the thread that makes our hoodies last; and just as with humility it comes without arrogance or pride. It is the thread of which there is unlimited supply. It is the thread that lets our hoodies shine.
Love also has the power to let us shine also, shine from inside our hoodies, from beneath our hoods. We put on love and let down our hoods to let out this powerful light, and into the world. We let our own lights shine - let them shine, let them shine, for as we would not want to hide our lamps under bushels, blankets, beds or baskets, we would not want to hide them beneath our hoods either. We uncover our lamps, letting out the power and the light, the power and the light of goodness and love.
We shine and we smile. Its a beautiful thing.
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© 2014 Paul K Francis