Right After the Parade

Psalm 147-6

My oldest girl was in first grade when she saw the parade for the first time.

It was the biggest news she shared with me on the last day of school, like it was the best thing she’d ever seen–better than the circus, better than her favorite movie.

There’s a tradition at our elementary school and she witnessed it for the first time that year.  On the last day, the fifth graders take their “final lap” around the school.

They play celebratory music on the school intercom system, and all the younger classes line the hallways as spectators.

Then the younger grades cheer as the fifth graders go by, and they high-five the new elementary graduates.

Every year since then, my daughter has stood in that hallway and celebrated the fifth graders with the best of them.  She knew one day, it’d be her time for the fifth grade parade.

This year was her year.

Parents don’t get to witness the “final lap” for the fifth graders.  After all, the hallways are packed already with cheering students and the parading graduates.

But, even though I didn’t see my daughter enjoy this moment, I tear up every time I think of it.

I saw parents all over the gym dabbing away tears during the promotion ceremony.  I didn’t cry then, but thinking about the parade makes me all emotional.

This is what my girl had been waiting for all these years.

I love how after all their hard work, these fifth graders say goodbye to the school that invested so much in them all this time.

And I love how the younger students come home inspired.  One day, they think, they’ll be the ones in the hallway parade.  They’ll hear the applause.  They’ll reach out for high-fives.  They’ll be honored for their success.

Before the fifth grade class enjoyed their final lap of victory, though, they sat in the gym wearing their nicest clothes and they listened to the principal’s final words of wisdom.

She said, “Be humble.

Work hard.  Accomplish a lot.

But always humbly take the time to cheer for others around you.”

She said exactly what’s in my heart, the very message I want my daughter to hear, and I dare to hope that these fifth grade grads tuck those words away and remember them.

Just in those moments when we feel like we know the most or we’ve accomplished the most or we’ve reached the top, that’s the best time to remember the beauty and the power of humility.

Maybe it’s age that impresses this on me.  After all, the older I get, the more I know that I don’t know.

In fact, I wish I knew at 14 all the things I didn’t really know.

Or maybe it’s motherhood.  Maybe the moments I mess up make me tender about failure, make me compassionate, make me realize that we’re all in this together and none of us is perfect and cheering each other on is the best thing we can do for our fellow moms.

Scripture tells that God:

saves the humble (Psalm 18:27)
leads the humble (Psalm 25:9)
teaches the humble (Psalm 25:9)
lifts up the humble (Psalm 147:6)
and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

No doubt about it, God’s heart is for the humble.

He wants us listening and teachable.  He wants us others-focused and self-sacrificing.

In The Blessing of Humility, Jerry Bridges writes:

“The apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians about AD 54. In it he referred to himself as the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9). In AD 62, in his letter to the Ephesians , he considered himself as the “very least of all the saints” (that is—all believers—Ephesians 3:8). In about AD 63-64, in his first letter to Timothy, he referred to himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:5)—Paul was growing in humility

Paul could have been proud of all he’d accomplished for God.  Year after year, he had more spiritual markers to add to his apostolic resume and more reason to boast.

So, he could have been growing in pride all those years.

Instead, he grew in humility.

The more he knew, the more he knew what he didn’t know.

The more he did, the more he remembered what Christ had done for him.

This is the heart I long for and this is the heart I desire for my children.  Even in the moments of their greatest accomplishments, when they’ve marched in the parade and listened to the cheers, may they cultivate a humble heart, which:

…listens instead of always demanding to speak.

….allows for differences and recognizes that “my way” doesn’t always mean “the only way.”

…accepts correction without defensiveness.

…receives counsel.

…cheers for others

…says, “I’m sorry” when they’ve messed up.

May we grow in humility like this.

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