“Get Low”

“Get Low”

“Get low.” That’s what a friend said to me years ago. He was telling me what to do in case of an emergency. Then he applied the words to my life. I’ve never forgotten it.

I was about to speak at a church in a major U.S. city. My friend was briefing me in preparation. Like many church leaders today, my friend and his team had been forced to think about what used to be unthinkable: someone opening fire during a service. Fortunately, there were a large number of police officers in that church. They knew what to do if trouble arose. They wanted to make sure I knew. So, my friend—a detective at the time—calmly told me what to do if anything dangerous occured while I was speaking. “Get low,” he said firmly.

Then, he smiled a bit and said, “Yeah, get low. It’s a good idea for your whole life, too.”

My friend wasn’t hammering me. He was just confirming what we both believe. Getting low—getting small, being humble, being little in one’s own eyes—it’s how a righteous person lives. The whole world around us tells us to puff ourselves up and act large before others. But wisdom, scripture, the counsel of the ancients and the example of the holy ones through history all say: Get low and stay low. It’s the right position before God and man. It clears your soul of self and clears your life of a cancerous form of idolatry. Get low. Good things result when you do.

In most faiths, humility is commanded. It’s one of the virtues lauded in those faiths. In Christianity, humility is so important that God is presented as opposing the proud and promoting the humble. People are commended for being “small in their own eyes.” Humility draws the attention of the divine and liberates the human. It’s the calling of the righteous.

It is almost silly how much these two words have come to mean to me in my life. I certainly don’t live them perfectly, but they are lights by which I navigate. If I’m grousing and unhappy, I hear my buddy’s voice: “Get low.” If I’m in a crisis, once again: “Get low.” If I’m angry with someone, here it comes—“Get low.”

So much truth in so few words. Take them. Make them your own. Whatever your circumstances, get low before God and man. It’s not a tactic. It’s a condition God honors. It’s also the condition of you at your best.

That’s it. Have a wonderful weekend. And keep on fightin’ Notre Dame!

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