Day 11: A Cup of Humiltea

Two things have caught my eye today:

  1. This much talked about Medium article by Talia Jane, a young woman who was unwillingly fired from her day job mere hours after posting the story
  2. The Gospel Truth for today. (Matthew 16: 13–19)

And here’s how the two of them correlate. (Catholics and non-Catholics, impassioned millennials, and/or angry friends of Talia Jane, hear me out.)

In “An Open Letter to My CEO,” Talia Jane, a college grad around my age, passionately discusses her employment woes at Yelp with a meager salary, and barely surviving in one of the top most expensive cities in the US, San Francisco. And while I can definitely, all-too-sadly relate to her financial struggle, that’s exactly what it is, Talia — a struggle. As you noted in great detail, we all have them: bills upon bills, credit card debt, the inability to live as independently, traipsing the world as freely as Taylor Swift does. But does that mean that I, a fellow millennial, am obligated to complain about my situation in a way that makes me entitled? Instead of quitting cold turkey and then complaining about my lack of funds later, aren’t I better off sticking it out (with a mental toughness only people like you and me can retain), and doing the best I can to meet my needs and the needs of those I love?

Everyone is talking about this article, talking about the differences between a grown-up “adult” millennial and an entry-level college grad. And yes, there is certainly something that needs to be fixed in our system here. But beyond the struggle and hardships, there’s this even greater thing, and it’s quite powerful— it’s called humility.

Now, going back to the Gospel of Matthew. In it, Jesus commissions Peter — who later becomes the first Pope — to be the leader of the Church, building it from the ground up. Peter (who in his human imperfection also denies Jesus, not too far down the road later) knows himself, and without hesitation he knows exactly who Jesus is for him. It’s a powerful moment of grace. When Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?” God bestows to Peter a new identity in Christ. Simon Peter, the rock, the new shepherd, leading his flock of sheep (the Church) to Heaven.

Likewise, God calls us to be leaders in our homes, workplaces, and communities, to lead by example with humility. Even if it means buckling up our bootstraps and trudging through mud. We willingly do so, not because we’re entitled, but because we’re humble. We can entrust that God is leading us through the muck and mud to a crystal clear, sparkling lake, or a vast, wide ocean. Talia, I feel you girl, you may have been unfortunately let go from your job but is no such thing as quitting. You have to keep going. Never mind what people will say about your dirty rain boots, the odd jobs you have to take to make ends meet (read: this triumphant letter response to Talia’s story), the lengths you will go to have your voice heard, message listened to, and salary fairly compensated.

Humility, as Jesus shows us, is being openly mocked and scourged, arms spread wide, hanging on a cross. Humility is greater than worldwide recognition or having the most amazing day job. Humility is an everyday struggle, and not quite the easiest to swallow. But the eternal life, love, and peace we are promised in the end? Totally worth it.

Keep on keepin’ on,