A Fresh Dose of Humility

Ann and I recently celebrated two major milestones – 25 years of marriage and a newly emptied nest – by taking a week on the Greek island of Kos. It was so awesome that I think we’re going to start taking silver anniversary trips every year. You can view a few pix here.

It costs time and money to celebrate well. Each day we did something special that reminded us of fun activities we’ve pursued at different times in our lifelong friendship. We rented mountain bikes, sailed a catamaran in the Aegean Sea, strolled on the beach, hiked in the hills and ate lots of great Greek food. Near the end of our week we took in the island’s breathtaking views by moped.

A nearly perfect day concluded with a small blip. While climbing up a fairly steep hill, the switchback was too slick and I laid the bike down on our turn. Bam! I vaguely remember apologizing to Ann on the way down: “I’m sorryyyy…” Though we weren’t moving fast we landed hard. Picture 450 pounds of bodies and bike simply falling over in your driveway – you get the idea. Ann bunged up her knee. I absorbed most of the impact with my right shoulder and a split second later felt two dull ‘pops’ in my chest. Thankfully I walked away with only bruised – and extremely tender – ribs. The doctor said they would be sore for 2-3 months.

“I Need Help”

Those three words are some of the most difficult for independent, healthy, self-sufficient people to say. Yet, they have come out of my mouth more in the past week than probably in the past six months. Bruised ribs hurt. They hurt when I stand, walk, turn, lie down, sit up, sleep, eat. Shoot, they hurt when I breathe.

So, it’s easy for you to picture us traveling through five airports on the way home. I have to ask for help. Ann has her knee bandaged up and limps through the airport, hoisting our luggage onto the check-in scales. I, the ever chivalrous husband, deftly handle the tickets and passports. When we board, Ann takes off my backpack and puts it in the overhead bin because I can’t lift my arm that high. I am hyper-aware of people looking at us, probably thinking: What a jerk. Dude, help your wife. All I want is a t-shirt that reads “I have severe internal injuries – you just can’t see them.”

Of course this doesn’t end with our trip. Yesterday I went to Lowe’s to buy two 40-pound bags of salt for our water system. Dani, a very friendly young cashier, takes my credit card. I find myself saying those three words again to her: “I need help. Can you call someone over to help me get these bags into my car?”

“Don’t worry,” says Dani. “Just back your car up and I’ll get them for you.”

Ouch.

Lesson: True humility flows from a sense that I need others. People can’t read my mind and often can’t see where I hurt. I need to verbalize my need and ask for help.

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded Indigitous.org, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at www.onleadingwell.com.

10 comments

  1. Thanks for the honesty. You could have told this story minus the struggle with pride, but it wouldn’t have been as impactful. I feel like lately humility has been elusive and I’m asking for God to change that. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  2. Congrats on 25 years, Ken and Ann! Your trip sounds (mostly) great. Nothing like a healthy dose of humble pie to finish off a great time. Besides learning humility your post is a great illustration of walking in faith. In order to get beyond the embarrassment rooted in pride one must walk on believing that God has one in that place now and that’s OK. Blind Paul asking a believer for healing, broken Ken getting help from his less broken wife. God’s path for us is faithful, even if it is painful.

  3. “All I want is a t-shirt that reads: ‘I have severe internal injuries – you just can’t see them.'”
    I don’t know if you meant to draw a secondary illustration, but it really is a great analogy to how we all really are as broken people and also how sometimes we judge others, not realizing that they too have “severe internal injuries” we might not be able to see right away. Those moments help us to have compassion on others we might otherwise judge or be unsympathetic towards.

  4. Enjoyed the pictures and your account. “I need help” is hard for me to say, too. I agree with Nathan about the t-shirt. In fact, as I read the blog and you mentioned the shirt, I thought how true the statement is of all of us.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.