“Humble yourselves before
and He will lift you up.”
James 4:10 (NIV)
In November 2014 I was with my wife driving south from Atlanta, beginning our third day of hard driving to the promised land—Naples. I was tired and physically working off the drinks I had had the night before to relax and get some sleep. That was my usual pattern.
Suddenly I noticed we were approaching the cutoff exit at Macon but were in the left lane. With just a quick check on traffic, I pulled across the other two lanes and exited to the blasting of other car horns. What had I done? I could have killed my wife and other innocents. I didn’t care about me. I hadn’t liked myself for a long time. Drinking the night before was only the tip of the iceberg. I pulled off the road and turned the driving over to my wife. I had to change.
Two days later in Naples I sought help. That was very difficult for me and my ego-driven self-image. Finding the humility to ask for help was only the beginning. I wanted to become the kind of person that God wants me to be. I had to learn to be humble in everything.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
I turned my will and my life over to the care of God. That meant letting go of “I want what I want right now” and substituting “Thy will be done.” I accepted that I have real control only over what I say and do. With work, I became much better at controlling my attitudes, thoughts, and emotions as well. I stopped fighting anyone and anything, knowing I have no control over other people and situations.
I sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God. That meant starting each day by getting on my knees, praying in gratitude for all my blessings and asking God to free me from the bondage of self and lead me through the day. I always condition my prayers with “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
After prayer, I read and meditate on spiritually inspiring materials. One of my favorites is Forward Day by Day which is available to each of us in the entrance of St. John’s church. In the course of my day, I often find myself saying, “There you go again,” hearing Ronald Regan’s famous line. Whenever someone says or does something I don’t like, I try to pause and pray, then respond, if necessary (often it is not). It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of effort to change a lifetime of habits of thinking, feeling and acting.
I found myself mired in the past. I turned to Father Joe for help with my sins and shortcomings. He was very generous with his time. I poured out my heart, welcomed his guidance and, after several meetings, received absolution. The Holy Spirit went right through my heart. I wept deeply. I knew without a doubt that I was forgiven. I even forgave myself.
I had a new way of life before me. That feeling of relief and freedom is wonderful. I went on to seek out and apologize to those I had harmed in the past. I gave up my old resentments. Today, I continue with these practices. I try to remain ever vigilant for my negative reactions and thoughts and personal shortcomings. I have learned that in order to love others, I have to be able to love myself. Jesus is now with me on my journey.
In addition to these practices, each week I attend two Bible studies and this beloved St. John’s church services. Obviously, I am getting more involved here. I seek to be of service to others in some way every day. Humbling myself daily through these practices has given me a happy, joyous and free life beyond my wildest dreams.