You have probably heard the saying “eating humble pie.” It’s an idiom that means being humbled when you discover you were wrong about something. This is a funny idea. Have you ever had a humbling moment and thought to yourself, “that experience was just like eating a slice of pie.” I love pie. Pretty much any kind of pie. Apple. Pumpkin. Pecan. Banana Cream. Cherry. There are few treats I enjoy more than a warm slice of pie. I don’t know about you, but the humbling moments I have had
in my life don’t make me think of pie–unless its a pie in the face.
Being humbled does a few things to you. It makes you feel vulnerable and naked. As someone who speaks in front of people a lot, I have had my share of nightmares where I dreamt that I showed up on Sunday morning with nothing on but my boxers. A very scary prospect not only for me, but for the congregation! In the dream, I try to act like everything is normal and hope nobody notices. When you face humbling failure, loss or disappointment it seems like all of your imperfections, blemishes and weaknesses are there for all to see.
A humbling moment also brings a sense of no longer having control. We work so hard to manage everything in our life and when a humbling moment comes it is the realization that by myself I am not able to keep everything in check. I like to think I am the master of my universe, the great He-Man of my part of the world. When life does not go as planned or you find out you were wrong, it often requires surrender.
When you are humbled its usually painful. I have had plenty of moments in my life where I have had to say, “I’m sorry.” It is usually painful. That kind of humility requires an honesty that cuts deep into our ego. Again, it does not make me think of peach pie.
Here’s the interesting thing. “Eating humble pie” is a very old saying. It goes back hundreds of years and was originally spelled “umble pie.” In 17th century, the word umbles referred to the edible innards of an animal–the intestines, heart, liver, etc. They were the throwaway parts that nobody of means wanted to eat. Umble pies were eaten by the poorest of society. On wealthy estates, the umble pies would be fit only for the servants. Thus the idiom, eating humble pie, became associated with servant life and lowly status.
Umble pie would not be on my list of types of pie I would enjoy eating. Though, piping hot intestine pie sounds a little closer to the experience of being humbled. But here is the thing. Jesus taught his followers to follow his example and learn to enjoy eating humble pie. Why? Because it is good for the nourishment of the soul. Paul echos Jesus’ teaching when he says in Philippians 2, “Have the same attitude as Christ Jesus…who became nothing and humbled himself.” Jesus did not have to admit he was wrong, because he lived a sinless life, but he made it his aim to serve others and to put the interests of others above his own living a lowly life.
Though humility is difficult it’s good for the soul. Some of the greatest challenges of a humble pie moment could be a part of God’s plan for our growth and maturity. Philippians 2 speaks of the humbling of Jesus where he left his throne in heaven and became a lowly servant. How could God be wanting to call you to a servant role in your family or in your church? How might God want to use a humbling moment to cause you to grow spiritually?
The journey with Christ is one where we learn to be vulnerable before God, surrender our control to him, and become willing to enter the pain with his strength.
“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit brings honor.” Pr. 29:23
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humilty comes wisdom.” Pr. 11:2