Stories for Lent: #4 Built for Humility?

“I had my sense of humour amputated at birth.” And I used to think that was such a great joke.
But in reality, I crack jokes a lot. More than it’s appropriate. More than it is needed, for sure. Put me in a quiet room and count the seconds before I try to make a reference to the latest funny thing I’ve seen on the Internet. Or look for an appropriate ironic gif to post on Facebook, whichever comes first.

*

I’m a Leo – not exactly a star sign known for being modest or self-depicting. Probably why I’m so terrible at making jokes – you can’t have humour without humility. What’s a person that makes fun of other people but never themselves? A bully.

And for a while, I was a bully. Not only did I think I had a right to comment on other people’s appearances and behaviour, but I also carried the unflinching conviction that I knew best. I knew everything.

Of course, I didn’t. But who would tell me that?

*

Eventually, I find myself sitting with a person – a friend, or a family member, or a stranger, telling me their life story or problems. Because… why? Because I offered to listen, most likely. All sorts of tales, tales that I wouldn’t dream of repeating on any public forum or private setting without permission, but tales that had no ending, no resolution. Tales that I tried to solve for them, and failed.

It’s frustrating when things don’t go your way, but when you believe you have the answer to everything, this can be especially painful. I began to resent people for talking to me. I began to resent myself, for being an inviting listener. I tried to grow a few more spikes, get a bit more prickly. It seemed to attract people more.

*

It went on and on, until the logical conclusion – when I moved from one end of the counseling room to the other and took the chair of the shrink. Someone told me once that people in psychology get into it because there is something inherently wrong with them.

He was trying to convince me it wouldn’t be a good fit for me, I guess. The way I took it was “you’re not messed up enough”.

Well… it wasn’t his fault.

Strangely enough, as a counselor, I finally found where my humility was. Not in self-degradation. Not in making jokes. It was in realizing that, at the end of the day, it’s not about me at all.

You would not believe how hard it was to let go of this idea. I’m a Leo. My star is the Sun. I am the center of my system, the arrogant cat that rules over the lands, solves problems for its subjects and suffers no fools. And then one day someone tells me this isn’t about me at all, and it gets through. It is, quite literally, like having something inside you explode.

But look – the dust is settling in, and I blink when light floods my eyes. The blast cleared a path. I can move forward.

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