Friday, July 22, 2011

Adventures in humility

A few weeks ago, I realized that I really could use a new swimsuit because my old tankini had gotten pretty stretched out over the last three years. One afternoon, eldest daughter and I braved a swimsuit shop together. Being a member of the very-small-bust department, I find bathing suit shopping rather humiliating, but I managed to find two pretty nice one-pieces that didn't have spaces that I couldn't fill. When I tried them on, I really liked the second, a pinky-purple one with black designs, a refreshing change after years of blue bathing suits. I happily took it to the cashier.

"Ah, this is pretty," she said, and I agreed. Looking at me a little more closely, she said, "and how did it fit for you?"

"Really well," I said. "It looked quite nice."

"You do realize that it's a mastectomy suit."

Ouch... "No, I didn't," I said, reconsidering for a moment as my ego deflated, then kicking myself for allowing it. I bought the suit. It gives me pause to think about how silly it is to complain about having a flat chest when I lost my friend Therese to a breast cancer recurrence and another friend is presently going through chemo. And honestly, it's the nicest suit I've had in years.

A few days later, middle daughter and I went shopping together, and another cashier offered me another piece of humble pie. "If you show me some I.D., I can probably give you your senior's discount."

Oof! "Thanks," I said, "but it's too early for that... I just have the hair of a senior citizen," I said, pointing to my natural grey and noting that her hair looked like it had been recently coloured.

"I'm sorry," she said, turning red. "Your face really is quite young."

"Thank you," I said, smiling and shaking my head. I guess I'm getting used to having people who don't know me either thinking I'm older than I am, or trying to convince me I should colour my hair. It happened again yesterday, when we went looking for some curl enhancer for my girl. I asked the sales lady if there was something more organic and less chemically derived, and she assumed I was looking for colour in a box.

After those three episodes (for me, things come in threes), you can see another reason why I dislike shopping! But I am actually a serious seeker of humility, just not from sales clerks! I prefer learning about humility with my spiritual director, whom I saw last week. After we'd chatted a while about my worries and struggles, he said, "Well, Maria, when I remember that I'll probably never have everything figured out and that I certainly don't know what's best all the time, that gives me permission to put away my pride and pay attention to what God might be telling me."

I like that last lesson the best.

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