Friday, February 24, 2012

Intelligence and Humility

Sometimes I spot a theme in my life and you must know by now I believe that's God trying to tell me something. The difficulty I sometimes have is WHAT, exactly, He is trying to say.

I am reading the most amazing book, A Good and Perfect Gift, about a couple who's first child is a daughter with Down Syndrome. I'm almost done with it in only a few hours because it's just so fascinating to me. It deals with so many issues that I could imagine will be a challenge if we have a child with Down Syndrome. The most poignant aspect for me, however, is the author's struggle with her expectations for her child coming from the author's "well-educated" place.

In the beginning she questions whether she can even relate to a child with mental retardation and if she can, where does that fit with all she has believed to date? She ultimately realizes that each child is different, each with his own challenges and strengths. Just because society places such great value on highly educated people doesn't mean those who are unable to perform to that level are not skilled at some other area.

Have you ever met someone who was really well-educated but still down-to-earth? In my days of academe, I'll admit, they were few and far between. After Pat and I were married, I was invited out to dinner every month or so with a professor who used to visit from Chicago to work on various projects. I have met some really scary-smart people in my life but this The funny thing is, we would go out with him and bring the baby and he was just so welcoming and interactive with each of us. Perhaps in the academic world he was not as unassuming but I'm pretty sure that can't be true. Humility of this ilk isn't something you can just turn on and off. He is brilliant, probably knows that to some degree, but continues to see it as a gift to use, rather than flaunt.

I don't think there is anything at all wrong with being intelligent or well-educated. My point is how you choose to use that gift. If your whole goal is to tell people how smart you are, to make the most money, to have fame, etc., I think you missed the point. I think the most intelligent people who are also the most humble are aware that, even if they posess great knowledge in one area, there is still so much more to know.

The Day 2 Intention for 40 Days for Life is as follows:

May the King of the Universe, who entered this world
as a helpless infant, give us the humility to be

"Give us the humility to be healed"

Wow. What a powerful statement and how true in my life. How many times have I had a disagreement with dh and afterwards thought, "now why, exactly, did I need to be right in that discussion?" It's even worse when I know I am "in the right". I have to pound it into your head until you get it. I wonder what my life would look like if God took the same approach with me? I'm sure my head would hurt almost every minute of my day. Pride is strong and it's so difficult to be wrong, to be weak, to lack authority. Yet the King of Everything entered this world as a helpless baby. If only we could have a bit of that trust that He will lead us where we need to go.

So, after starting this post yesterday, I'm finishing today. Let's just say today was not a "parent of the year" award-winning day. Sick kids, tired mom, short tempers all around. Fail, fail, fail (except for the lovely morning I had with Nino). Anyway, the great thing about it is I knew where to go. Writing this last night made me cut the bad part short, retreat to my room, and beg for forgiveness and help.  It didn't change the difficulties but it did make them a bit more bearable. I think I'll post this one on my mirror. I know I need to read it daily.

I know you're waiting for the big tie-in for Intelligence and Humility. I don't have it, sorry to say. I guess I've just been feeling like it's good to be smart but it's better to be kind, patient and forgiving. As I look around at society and feel more and more like the "smart" people who run things have it completely wrong, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off with a few more kind, humble and forgiving people in charge. I will be working on my kind, patient, forgiving side. Goodness knows it could use some tending.


  1. I bet that's a FAR better book about a child with down syndrome than the one I am reading. it's painful to get through, but I'm on the last chapter (finally). I wouldn't recommend Expecting Adam.

    good thoughts, MamaRoc ;)

  2. Love this. New to your blog. The Saints are big tie ins to humility and intelligence! St. Therese...HOW DID A YOUNG GIRL GET TO BE SO SMART; St. Theresa of Avila, political genius; MOTHER THERESA--ahead of her time in the issues of life and human dignity...the list goes on doesn't it?

    Humility is the great insight that I am not everything that God has ALOT to still teach me and when we are open to being taught we are not limited by our small, small, limited world view...

    Sorta like St. Augustine's quote about being filled by God...humility creates that opening.

    Sorry! So much to write for my first post. Just loved your insights!!