You are the expert on yourself. No one knows you like you do. You have the best and most intimate understanding of how your body feels, the state of your soul, and your emotional well-being.
I think that’s why when someone else tries to tell us we shouldn’t be hurting, either physically and/or spiritually, that it only tends to increase our need for care and comfort. Maybe you’ve also had the experience of another person trying to one-up your pain, as if what they experienced was worse than you. They just don’t get that pain is personal, as if it’s a one-size-fits-all.
Invalidating a person’s state of being does no one any good. It happens because of pride and a lack of humility.
Imagine going to see a doctor who turns out to be arrogant in his approach. He doesn’t really listen to you. He just gives a quick exam and offers his diagnosis with a regimen of more pills to take. You’re left sitting there while he’s off to another patient, colonizing another person’s mind and emotions with his expertise.
I’m not giving doctors a hard knock. My current family physician is just the opposite of what I described; she’s a listening professional who offers an insightful plan of care. But it’s likely that you, like me, have had that occasional experience of the doctor full of him/herself with all the right answers on your pain and situation.
You may have also had the unfortunate experience of having a pastor, therapist, or counselor assess your situation with little information and even smaller compassion. Like writing a script for pills, they give you a few Bible verses and tell you to quit sinning and live obediently.
If pride and arrogance are the original sin, then the remedy to that malady is humility. No matter who we are – whether doctors, pastors, laypersons, patients, or whomever – we are meant and designed by our Creator God to live a humble life. That means we are to both give and receive humility-based care.
Humility is the cornerstone to every good thing in this life. Jesus said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, NIV)
The door of God’s kingdom swings-open on the hinges of humility.
The Apostle Paul, seeking to follow his Master Jesus in his teaching and humility said:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NLT)
Basic human interaction with one another is grounded in humility.
The old prophet made his expectations clear:
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NRSV)
Life is truly life when it is humility-based.
Therefore, caring for another person is not a simple linear matter of offering your opinion or expertise; it is believing that the one needing care is the expert on herself. The caregiver has as much to learn from the care-seeker. The beauty of humility-based care is that two people discover together how to grow, thrive, and flourish in a situation where it isn’t currently happening. Breakthroughs occur in the soil of humility, when the care-seeker comes out of the darkness and into the light through mutual discovery and insight.
We live with the confidence of the Psalmist:
“He [God] leads humble people to do what is right, and he teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25:9, GW)
In the end it’s God that heals, not you, me, or anyone else. That God chooses to use us to bring his care to others ought to elicit the utmost of humility within us.