This week we hear from Elspeth Currie, a CTR parishioner, teacher, and volunteer with the High School Youth Group.
While the past few weeks have abounded with warm, sunny afternoons, there is no denying that fall is well underway here on the North Shore. The season brings with it its rituals and milestones, which for me include the start of another teaching year. Returning to work has, of course, been more challenging this year, but with that challenge has come a clarity: God has been welcoming me into a place of humility, reminding me of who I am and the joy that comes with knowing it.1
Humility. When first contemplating this virtue, too often our minds jump to its relative, humiliation, to shame and self-loathing. But actual humility is seeing the reality of things, specifically the reality of the self in relation to God. As theologian Josef Pieper put it, “the ground of humility is man’s estimation of himself according to truth.” 2
As I’ve begun the 2020 school year, God has shown me who I am. I am a human, made of the dust of the earth, limited in my power. I constantly face the struggles of crafting good lesson plans under new time constraints and health protocols. I have lost any semblance of control over the future, planning each month hesitantly, knowing that we could move remote tomorrow and it would all need to be redone
I am too small to do all that I want or meet all of my students’ needs. I always have been, of course, but it took a pandemic to accept it. Or at least, work towards accepting it.
Pressing into humility has not been easy. However, in his faithfulness, God has paired the difficulty of learning humility with a new joy. Acknowledging my limits comes with rejoicing in a God who is unlimited. Realizing how little I can do for my students directs me towards the One who can do infinitely more for us all and has already done so through the work of Jesus Christ.
In so doing, God sets me free from the burden of never being enough. When I accept the truth of my status as a creature and God’s as the Creator I can undertake the work set before me with peace, rather than fear. I will fall far short of perfection. Praise Him, though, that the welfare of my students, the outcome of this year, was never dependent on my efforts alone. Praise Him for being powerful enough, glorious enough, to carry us all through. Praise Him.
1 The credit for many of these reflections must go to the chaplain at my school, who has chosen humility as our theme for the year.
2 Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, trans. Richard and Clara Winston, Lawrence E Lynch, and Daniel F. Coogan, (Norte Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 189.