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Straighten Your Crown: Humility

I’m a doer. If I want something done, I do it myself. One of my many mantras is “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I like to get things done and put 120% effort into whatever I’m doing; there is no minimalist here. That can be a very good thing- it can also be a very bad thing.

Being a doer not only takes a lot of self-confidence, determination, self-sacrifice, commitment, and guts- it also takes a bit of pride…which can be one of those very bad things.

This subtle pride of mine has been known to obscure my vision of the reality that I do have limitations. It’s been known to hide my weaknesses, and therefore hide humility. This pride of mine has hindered me from seeking assistance, guidance, and help, which in turn, has caused me to fall…literally. 

My oldest daughter told me she’d help me clean mildew off the crown molding in her bathroom.  I’d already tackled the same task in the boys’ bathroom by myself, so naturally, I thought I’d have no problem. But that was exactly the problem. I had too much pride, coupled with determination, impatience, a little bit of sass, and a whole lot of stupidity.

First of all, the task at hand wasn’t completely warranted- cleaning a little mildew off the crown molding in the bathroom isn’t on many people’s to do list. Who even does that?!

My “Type Triple A” personality, however, wouldn’t allow a speck of it to go unnoticed.

The mildew was there, so it was time for it to leave. 

I hoisted an 8 foot wooden ladder up 2 flights of stairs and squeezed it between the bathtub and sink. I tested its strength a few times and nodded to myself with approval- it wasn’t going anywhere. I put gloves on, grabbed paper towels soaked in bleach, and climbed to the top of ladder ready to clean. Things were going quite well….until I leaned a little too far to reach that one spot that kept looking at me. 

The next thing I know, the ladder collapsed and I had fallen off. Glass was everywhere. I couldn’t move or breath. Somehow I managed to crawl down a flight of stairs, grab my phone, and call 911. The fire department arrived first, followed by the paramedics. They quickly evaluated me, lifted me onto a stretcher, and placed me into the ambulance, where they started me on oxygen and IV fluids.

I was headed to the ER. 

Once I got there I was placed into a Trauma 1 pad where I was immediately triaged and whisked away for X-rays and full-body contrast CT scans. The results revealed a small pneumothorax, broken ribs, bruised lungs, and 2 broken bones in my right ankle.

The shades of pride I once had before I started my project completely disappeared; they were then replaced with embarrassment, humility, and fear. While laying flat on the stretcher in the ER staring at the ceiling, I realized not only how bad my injuries were, but also how bad they could have been.

I put myself at risk wanting to portray how scrappy I was and to convince others and myself that I can rise above any challenge or risk, even if it meant climbing ladders without help and assistance. 

It’s been a week since my fall. My ankle is casted and cannot bear weight for 6 weeks. My lungs and body hurt… and so does my pride- but that’s a good thing.

My pride was meant to be broken.

I wish my bones weren’t… but the lesson is learned. I’m owning my fall. I’m owning my pride. I’m also learning step by step to climb a different ladder- one that will never fall because it’s held by shades of self reflection, truth, and humility. 

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Angie Elser

Angie writes from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the mother of six children and co-founder of the MOMMS (Mothers of Major and Minor Seminarians) Prayer watch for the Diocese of Little Rock.

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