The Spiritual Practice of Meekness

UNPACKING THE BEATITUDE:

“Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.”

Jesus in Matthew 5:5, NIV

Meekness is about carrying a gentle, humble, selfless and confident strength deep within yourself. Meek people don’t need to overtly display their strength or flash it around for others to see. Deep inside they are very secure. They know who they are, and they know where they are going. They trust God with all of their being, and in so doing have a profound inner strength that reflects God’s character, power and will.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-5, NIV)   

WATCH THIS FILM:

The 2019 biographical drama, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a powerful story about the life of Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers was the embodiment of meekness—his gentleness, humility and always-receptive kindness were palpable. You can’t walk away from this film without wanting to be a meeker person. Watch it before you step into this spiritual practice.

UNPACKING YOU:

What keeps you from being meek? While each of us is unique, and while we all have different dispositions, none of us is Mr. Rogers. Yet, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are less meek than we could be (for our varying personality types). Why is that?

Following is a list of possible reasons for our meekness-deficiency. Which is most applicable to you?

  1. I grew up in a culture that equated meekness with weakness. This forced my sensitive nature into hiding.
  2. I’ve been hurt and find it hard to be an open and sensitive person. The external shell that I have created to keep me safe also prevents me from sensing the needs of others.
  3. When I expressed feelings as a child I wasn’t heard. So, I stopped sharing and turned inward and never grew my capacity to attend to the feelings of others.
  4. I’m not sure who I am. Most of the time I feel insecure and uncertain. No one has ever helped me know and understand myself. 
  5. I wasn’t asked how I was feeling when I was young. I didn’t learn how to identify and manage my feelings. 
  6. No one ever taught me that meekness was strength—that gentleness, kindness and humility were important life virtues. I was taught that I needed to wear my power on the outside and look out for myself.
  7. When I acted in meek ways in the past, I was trampled on and taken advantage of. Meekness has never worked for me.
  8. I’m an introvert and prefer to keep things to myself. Why would I put someone in a position of discomfort by asking how they’re doing? 
  9. To be honest, I don’t have the time or energy to meekly care for others. I’m too busy, and if I’m really honest, I don’t care that much. 

Now take your “number one reason for not being meek” (maybe it’s not on this list, but the list led you to identify it) and imagine a scenario where the opposite of what you’ve experienced played out. 

For example, imagine growing up in a culture where being gentle and sensitive to others were primary virtues. How would this kind of world have shaped you differently? Who would you be and how would you act toward others if you grew up in this kind of society?

Or imagine growing up in a home where you were always able to express yourself and be understood. Who would you be now if that was your story?

Or imagine a time where your gentleness led to a wonderful and unexpected healthy outcome (instead of being trampled upon).

You get the idea. Write down your reimagined life circumstance in a paragraph or two. Take note of how this more positive scenario makes you feel. Try to name how this kind of encouraging experience would have made you more meek. 

BECOMING MEEKER:

In order to re-know yourself you need to let go of your pain. This can happen in two ways. 

First, you can express your hurt. What was it like for you to go through those life sapping experiences? If your trauma was significant, you might even consider talking to a counsellor. This could be the best life investment you ever make because when you express grief and anger you make room for a renewed “you”. By naming what happened, you uproot its life sapping power—and if anger is your thing, you diffuse that too. 

Second, you can choose to forgive those who have hurt you. You make more room for yourself when you let others go. You are the first person who is freed when you forgive another. Forgiveness is not forgetting or unfairly letting others off the hook. It’s choosing to not let that bad thing from the past ruin your future. It’s choosing to see the complex humanity of that person who hurt you. It’s choosing to be more God-like. 

Expressing your pain and choosing to forgive are not easy. For some it can take what seems like a lifetime. But, if it means that you can become more yourself again, more soft, sensitive and meek, then these risks are certainly worth taking—so that you can become more God-like in how non-judgmental, approachable, open, kind, down-to-earth, free and accepting you are.

Meek people are fully themselves in all of these ways—and are attractive to others! Their non-judging natures stand out in an uber-judging world. Their unconditional love is like a magnet—drawing in those who yearn to be accepted where they are at. Because meek people think so little of themselves, they have lots of room for others. Because they know who they are, they don’t have to spend lots of energy figuring themselves out, or maintaining a façade. Because meek people are God-like in terms of their healthy sense of self knowledge, they can be God-like in terms of the power and meaning their life can bring to the world.

In a very real sense, to engage a truly meek person is to see the face of God. 

Can you imagine being this kind of person?

A DAILY MEDITATIVE EXERCISE:

Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Your life is surrounded by caring people. What if you chose to engage each and every one as a parable—a real time reminder of the ever-caring presence of God?

Anyone who shows kindness in our world is evidence of a caring God. Their meekness images Jesus’ meekness. Their still-sensitive hearts echo the heart of their maker. Their willingness to take the time, to be open to the risk, to sacrifice a bit of themselves for others is holy emblematic of the selfless love of Christ. 


Everywhere you look, wherever there are helpers, God-our-helper is there!

A PRAYER:

In a letter to the church the Apostle Paul prayed the following words (the kind of words a meek person would pray for those they love), 

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” 

(Ephesians 1:17-23, NIV)

In order to know yourself you need to know God. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray this prayer for you. Read this prayer again, only this time let Paul’s “yous” refer to you personally. Then read this prayer daily for a few days. 

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