On Meekness, a Personality Trait to Cultivate

You’ve heard it said that “With great power comes great responsibility.” But outside of my superhuman ability to eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting, it’s hard to know what power I’m responsible for…

It’s easy to pass off the above phrase as advice from a wise man to someone extraordinary (read: NOT ME.) To see myself as merely ordinary… while the “powers that be” hold all the responsibility for my well-being. And ultimately, internalizing the idea of living worry-free because the extraordinary people are taking care of it all.

But then again, the “they’ve got this” mindset leads to a trapped feeling, like I’m Timmy at the bottom of the well, hoping that a dog can save me.

Maybe, we need to take a step back for a minute. Think of it this way… all parents write a story for their newborn. That their infant grows to be an independent adult, off on their own in the world. It’s the power that all parents seek to cultivate in their children: an ability to take up responsibility for their own well-being. Self-efficacy, then, is the natural order of things.

Large cottonwood tree on the riverside.

Nature, too, has examples of self-preservation. On one hand, there’s the rose bush, completely out of its element, living in a Midwestern, suburban lawn. The roses require maintenance, a Styrofoam cover in the wintertime held down by a few rocks. Even with the tender care of its cultivator, there’s still an ounce of required luck to ensure it survives the snow. Now, turn your eyes towards the majestic cottonwood trees found along rivers. Millions of people will never have the chance to canoe past its dominating stature, yet the tree continues to collect water and light to live on.

When the Word became flesh, we were told the MEEK shall inherit the earth. A word that has changed throughout the millennia to come to mean something different than its original connotation. But don’t think of MEEK as meaning WEAK. On the contrary, meek is the physically fit, courageous cowboy (with the best shot Down Under) who could swallow his principles to make money, but instead turns the job down. Meek is an old, likable lawyer, reading a newspaper outside of a jail cell when the town ruffians come to kill his client; instead of shooting them on the spot he tries to talk them into their senses. It’s a young woman pledging her life to Christ as a cloistered nun at the age of 16, never to go on mission, yet with a few letters becomes patron saint of missionaries.

Canoeing paddling the river, trees and blue sky in the background.

Meek is having the power to string himself from building to building, yet hide beneath a costume so as not to have the fame.

Sometimes the best outdoor adventures are done meekly.

They aren’t grandiose or published in magazines; perhaps they consist of a simple paddle on a lake in the middle of the city. Maybe THAT is our ordinary power… the ability to WITNESS the beauty of nature in our simple, every day ways.

To me, all these examples boil down to one definition: having a quiet confidence in your abilities without recognition from outside sources.

Is it really a shock that this personality trait should be so desirable?

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This post was written by Annie Schmitz, June 2021.

Annie sitting in the back of an aluminum canoe. Luna swims in the water nearby.

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