Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Spiritual poverty is not low self-esteem, but rather the self-effacement that arises from my acceptance of all that I am. My strengths and my weaknesses.
It took me many years – longer than I oft care to admit (which itself is an evident sign of my tendency to fall prey to the temptation of self-delusion, issuing in a conscious lack of transparency!) – to learn that whilst I paraded before the world what I perceived as my strengths, for that was what I wanted others and myself to see of me, in order to be fully myself, indeed, to become my self, I needed to name and claim, to acknowledge and accept my weaknesses.(1)
Not in some almost self-congratulatory, self-pitying fashion, “See, I am a much more horrible person than you!” But rather in the honest humility (or is it the humble honesty?) that knows that I am not (that I am never) in control. Surely, not of the external circumstances of my life in this world nor fully of my inner life and world. For, as the Apostle Paul saith, “Now, we see in a mirror, dimly.”(2) I do not and cannot always see myself clearly. So, it is that sometimes I am happily surprised and, at other times, sorrowfully shocked at the thoughts that come to my mind, the feelings that arise in my heart, the intentions that emanate from my will, and the actions I take.
In all this, I have discerned that my truest trust cannot, dare not be in myself, but rather and only in One who is greater than I. God. To live in this poor-in-spirit manner is to receive the gift that Jesus promises, the kingdom of heaven.
This is another way of saying that to put my trust wholly in God I am able to live according to the way life really is, that is, being constantly aware that God is God and that I am not.
Stated differently, God cannot fill my hands with God’s Self (another way of talking about the kingdom of heaven) unless they are emptied of my self.
(1) Back in the proverbial day, I called my weaknesses “growing edges;” elements of personality and character that, once identified, I labored to grow-up-from/grow-out-of, thus, leaving them behind. It took more years (and failures) to learn that what I knew and know as weaknesses, in league with my strengths, are rudimentary aspects of who I am. The trick, the test of my living, in identifying them, is not to allow them to overwhelm, to dominate my thinking and feeling, intending and acting.
(2) 1 Corinthians 13.12