As 2019 comes to a close, I can look back and say that there are a lot of things that I've learned, and if I had to choose one thing that really seemed to be driven home to me repeatedly, it would be something I was convinced I had a handle on completely, but in reality really had no true conception of: meekness.
We understand the word as something related to these words: humble, docile, small, submissive, compliant, serene, passive, forbearing, modest, etc. This was my understanding, and since I have always felt that I had little self-confidence, and because I truly try to defer to others, I thought that I was meek simply as a matter of consequence. Wrong.
This year has proven to me that when it really came down to accepting difficulties such as pain for my family's sake, or the awakening old wounds that I thought were long-healed, I. Completely. Lost. It. And having to take a long, honest look in the mirror spiritually, the soul that looked back at me seemed very different than the one I thought lived in there.
Here's a brief and abbreviated history of where the word meek came from and how its definition was much more different than we know it now.
During the years that Rome was conquering the world battle by violent battle, the word meek was used to describe a trustworthy war horse that was completely and utterly under control by its master. Gallop into those flames? Done. Ride fearlessly into a crowd of screaming men with weapons? Got it. Run headstrong into a line of spears pointed at you? Yes, sir. For a Roman officer or soldier to say that their horse was meek was the greatest compliment and most yearned for description of a mount to go into battle with. Why? Because it is solid. It is trustworthy. It will obey even when things utterly make no sense at all. You are guaranteed a better chance at living through the battle if your horse doesn't do something stupid in its fear. To be meek was to be under complete control, no matter what the circumstances.
This is how I realized that I am not meek. If God is my master and He is taking me into battle, how can I be an effective war horse if I am bucking, throwing a fit, running away? Faced with something that God has asked me to contend with, even though it is painful and scary, I must give Him complete control. This means not losing my temper or holding a grudge. This means seeking to understand instead of being understood. If I am under complete control of my Master, that means that I must become like Him; I must not only seek to see things honestly, but compassionately instead of judgmentally.
To be meek is not to be down on myself and gladly become everyone's doormat, even though that's the easier thing for me to do ("if I'm forced into battle then maybe by just immediately surrendering I can at least live through it?" has been my go-to). To be meek is to know and accept that there are some things bigger and scarier than I am but that I can face them under the control of my Master. This is freedom because it is not my strength, but His. Whenever I see others do this, I am struck by the amazing strength of it. Intimidation or manipulation are not signs of strength, but deeper chasms of weakness only disguised. Even though those things have hurt and scared me in my life, I can be comforted by knowing that those things are not strength. They are farces. True strength is being completely under control of the Master.