What Will You Teach Me?


Did you feel the earthquake last Thursday? No?

I’m glad you didn’t feel it. Because it was awful. It was a 10.

Thankfully, the earthquake was only intended for me. But, earthquake it was.

I met with my spiritual director last Thursday as part of my training at Heartpaths and it was rather obvious, in that meeting, that I have an arrogance problem. This brings tears to my eyes even as I type for several reasons:

  1. I’ve already concluded that arrogance and a lack of humility are a huge problem for me and have been really trying not to behave arrogantly. Obviously, I’m failing miserably at that.
  2. I’ve always been overly sensitive to criticism. I so wish I could conquer that when people are simply giving me constructive criticism meant for my own good.
  3. I think God designed me with a teacher’s heart. While that is probably a good thing long-term, it can create huge problems when trying to strive for humility. I am constantly teaching “in my head” and sometimes it comes out of my mouth when it is least needed.
  4. It’s been suggested that I’m becoming more like my mother. Becoming more like my mother is not exactly a compliment for me. It simply reminds me that I’m failing miserably at conquering my faults.
  5. This is transpiring in February–the time when my brother decided to quit cancer treatment and died. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders and seemed to know exactly how to help his little sister. It really ouches to know he’s gone when I need it most.
  6. I’ve always had low self-esteem. Not exactly sure why, except that I grew up in a household of really bright people and by being the youngest by a long shot, I always felt left out and that I was a moron for not understanding all the conversations in my household.
  7. I’m well aware that my low self-esteem causes me to over-compensate when intimidated (which is pretty much all the time) and my over-compensation for it comes off as arrogance.
  8. I know only God can fill my low self-esteem abyss, but I can’t quite comprehend how God is going to do that. I keep hoping he will magically fix me, but He doesn’t.

So, in true MaryAnn style, I responded to this observation in the following “enlightened” way:

  1. I cried so hard that it actually made my entire face hurt more than a migraine.
  2. I thought about quitting about 18 times.
  3. I looked up humility on the internet and got even more depressed.
  4. I got mad at God. (More about that later!)
  5. I clogged up my sinuses so badly that meds were required to unclog them.
  6. I locked myself away from the rest of the world.
  7. I didn’t eat because I would have to run into people who might ask me why I looked like such a mess and I was embarrassed by that.
  8. I over-analyzed all my Heartpaths behavior to-date.
  9. I tried to obediently do all the things that my spiritual director asked me to do, but stubbornness and resistance obstinately reared its decidedly ugly face.
  10. I argued with God. He was smart and didn’t argue back.


I know I’m supposed to “die to myself.” But during “the earthquake” it felt as if God was sucker-punching me and thus, I didn’t feel God saw anything about me as redeemable. In fact it felt as if God was asking me to completely assume a different personality. Before Thursday I finally felt that I was accepting who I was, good, bad and indifferent and then, WHAM! It felt like I was starting from scratch again. This was, and is, devastating to me. I felt like God was saying that my acceptance of myself was arrogance.

I countered with, “If I 100% die to myself, then there’s nothing left, God! If there’s nothing left, then why did you create me in the first place with this weird amalgamation of attributes???” (On non-earthquake days I would be able to reason this theologically soundly, but soundness of mind was not happening last Thursday.)

I wound up with this prayer on my lips: “God, I obviously know absolutely nothing about humility or this wouldn’t be called to my attention. Nothing I seem to do shows others that I intend to be humble and that I think humility is important. I guess, Lord, this is one area where you are just going to have to “surgically remove” arrogance, hubris, bravado, boasting and resume-spouting from my body. I don’t think I’m going to be humble any other way.”

After that fatigue finally won and I fell asleep.

Unfortunately, morning happened and I was still upset. As I began to cry again, this thought came out of the darkness and confusion: Regard everyone you meet as your teacher.

I’m pretty sure that this didn’t come out of my brain. A) It sounds way too wise to come from me, and B) I don’t usually start sentences with the word “regard.” So, I’m thinking this was God starting to do some surgery on my soul.

I had to ponder the statement for a while because my next “meeting” could be with Hitler reincarnated! Not exactly who I want to emulate! Then I realized that sometimes my teachers will show me what I shouldn’t do and that’s still a lesson to be learned.

I then pondered this: Everyone has flaws so since I’m so inept at things, how will I know when to learn from them and when to not learn from them? I’m still pondering this, but I think the answer is: practice. With time I will learn the difference and recognize it almost instantly. That day may not come until I’m 95, but there’s one “fail-safe” in case I get it wrong.

My ultimate teacher is God. He’s foolproof. He’s the Great Teacher. Thus, if what I’m learning doesn’t square with what He is teaching me, then that human teacher may be letting their flaws show and I need to approach that “teacher” with caution.

The next thought on this teacher discussion? Does this mean inanimate objects can teach me? The Bible refers to the rocks praising Jesus even if no one else is doing that. So it’s highly possible that if I give a rock some time, some silence and some attention, it might be able to teach me a thing or two.

So, that left me with one final question: If I’m always the student, what qualities and behaviors are characteristic of a student? Here are my feeble answers so far:

  1. Silence. I can’t learn if I’m talking all the time.
  2. Asking good questions and fully waiting for them to finish their answer.
  3. Being respectful of the teacher.
  4. Showing deference for their wants and needs.
  5. Being attentive to all that’s being said and done.
  6. Willing to appear foolish while still a novice.
  7. Complying with the teacher’s requests and assignments and giving it my best shot.
  8. Thanking my teachers for their wisdom and help.
  9. Waiting to see if my questions will be answered automatically before asking a question.
  10. Doing my best not to annoy the teacher.
  11. Letting the teacher lead.
  12. Avoiding critiquing what the teacher is saying. Judgment is for teachers, not students.
  13. Trusting that the teacher has a plan for a reason and that, as the student, I may not fully understand the reason just yet.
  14. Being willing to deconstruct my own behaviors and attitudes to learn new, better ones.
  15. Resisting resistance and stubbornness by being fiercely open to new ideas.
  16. Not being argumentative,
  17. Practicing passionate patience (as my pastor preached recently).


I’m sure there’s more I’m supposed to put here, but this is all that occurs to me right now. “Surgery” makes one pretty sore and it takes a while to recover from it. While recovering, there may be some awkwardness, not knowing what you’re in for next, and learning to adapt to a new reality. Thus, I’m probably going to have to spend a lifetime practicing treating everyone as my teacher to learn what it fully means to be a student. In other words it’s going to take me a long time to adapt to a new reality post-surgery.

But, I’m hoping that my two feet are now on the path to humility with this little thought from God and that this time the path won’t be shattered by earthquakes.

So, dear reader, I’m ready for the lesson you will teach me. I have my pencil and notebook out and am ready to take notes. What’s today’s topic?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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