By Nina Hill, FC 18 Costa Rica
I was amazed the first time I saw a nurse at Manos Abiertas, pick one of the residence up. The resident is around 30 years old and wheelchair bound, but the nurse came over and picked him up like it was nothing. It was a little like being at the circus watching the “strongest man on Earth.”
What really caught me off guard though was walking into a child’s room five minutes later and seeing the very same nurse baby-talking with the sweet baby, singing to her and coaxing a smile out of her.
We know that Christ asked us to live counter-culturally. To live simply, without placing value on the physical, to love even your enemies, and to be humble and joyful in the face of adversity. But somehow when it comes to meekness we pull back, thinking that somehow Christ is asking something too radical or against our natural desire for justice and dignity. Somehow simplicity, love, and humility, while still difficult, seem more noble than meekness. What Christ asks of us, however, doesn’t go against our nature. Our confusion and balking lies in the definition of meekness.
Meekness is surrendering, being overcome, or yielding to the will or strength of another. Unlike humility, it is not personal strength found in the power of another. It’s pure submission and gentleness. It’s the nurse, with all of his physical strength, baby-talking with the children. It’s the sisters and the caregivers, with their emotional strength, losing themselves in laughter. It isn’t a lack of strength, but rather a re-prioritization of strength. It’s putting strength aside for a minute to become submissive, tractable, and docile. It’s not an excuse for others to walk over you, rather it’s an opportunity to walk on Holy Ground.
So Godly meekness is about finding the right time to bow down, put aside yourself, and live under the strength and power of something or someone else. But how do we decide what to submit ourselves to? Paul tells us in his Letter to the Philippians that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). We can put aside our power, our mental strength, our self-empowerment for a little while and get lost in the purity of people who surround us, the loveliness of the world God created for us, and the excellence of God’s plans for us.