Monthly Archives: April 2015

Got Smugness?

Humility isn’t a word we hear too often. We might not even be sure what it means.

An easy way to explain is to say what it is NOT. Humility is not arrogance, aggressiveness, pride, boastfulness, vanity and self-righteousness.the-church-lady1

Humility is a reoccurring Biblical theme. Again and again we’re told to seek humility.

Being humble is a key ingredient to loving others.

It’s easy to be smug isn’t it? A self righteous attitude comes all too easily.

Of course it does. We live with our minds 24 hours a day. We see the world through our own perspective.

Therefore it is easy to think our opinion in the right one. Our way is the right way. Our ideas are the best.

Being self righteous comes naturally because we haven’t walked the road of another.

Self righteousness is one of the biggest barriers to having compassion for another person’s suffering.

Self righteousness kills empathy.

It’s all too easy to say,

“Well, what did you expect?”

“That’s what happens.”

“Why were you so stupid?”

In our smugness we relish in the fact that we are better than that.

My Smugness Confession

I confess that I’ve had feelings of smugness when it comes to health.

I’ve been a health snob.

Making healthy choices regarding food, exercise, sleep, self-care and no smoking or excessive alcohol comes easily to me.

Therefore, I tend to think it should come easily to others.

I was raised with good health habits modeled to me. Living a positive, healthy lifestyle was valued and I carried those values and habits into my adult life.

Easy transition.

But this is not everyone’s experience. Healthy living can be foreign to some people.

When I see someone physically suffering as a result of poor health habits, I can no longer feel smug and say, “Oh well, that’s what happens.”

And this is why…

Because much of my own suffering in life has been the result of my own poor choices.

Except my suffering wasn’t physical. We can suffer mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Most of the difficulties in my life came in other forms of suffering, not the physical. And most of it was from poor choices I made during youth.

So how could I have a self-righteous attitude about my health habits when other areas of my being suffered as a result of my own doing?

My health snob smugness needed to go. And we all know how easy smugness is to hang on to.

A humble attitude is required instead.

Humility tells me that all people are broken and in our brokenness we will make poor choices along the way.(and hopefully learn from them so we don’t repeat them)

And those poor choices can cause suffering in some form.

I may not be able to understand the reasoning for another person’s poor choices and they might not understand mine.

But what binds people together is empathy and compassion for another person’s suffering.

And empathy and compassion are nearly impossible in the presence of self-righteousness.

Are there things you’ve felt smug about? Being honest about our own struggles with self-righteousness is part of learning to live a better story.

“A great deal of passes for current Christianity consists of denouncing other people’s vices and faults.” ~Henry H. Williams