When the enemy fires cannonballs or incites mad elephants to attack, what softens their assault even more effectively than the barriers we have erected to protect our hearts? Bales of cotton stop cannonballs, which would smash through stonewall and little lambs pacify a maddened elephant who would crush armored defenses. The lamb symbolizes our relationship to God, the cotton ball, our dealings with men. The imagery conveys and cultivates an attitude, which is humble and meek and thus able to withstand and deflate the blunt assaults of the devil.
Why is the term “meek and humble” so crucial to our vocabulary when the two words might seem to be synonymous and thus redundant? Internally related - yes; synonymous – no. Initially we say that humble sets the standard for our attitude towards God whereas meek is the manner in which the Lord intends that we interact with mankind. Further elaboration is helpful.
Amongst the significant members of mankind with whom our interactions forge character, our relationship with self requires meekness to protect oneself from itself. How brutally some of us measure and mistreat ourselves for our human imperfections! The rational faculty of the head dictates that we become upset at ourselves for our ill temper towards others, whereby the heart is repeatedly scorched by successive flames of passion.
Truly, we should be more strict in our evaluation of ourselves than of others, yet we must set boundaries to this standard according to Lord's measuring stick. His stick compensates our limitations with His divine grace. And the goddess of grace, not only allows for imperfections, she furthermore appears and serves in and through them if we only treat her servants with meekness.
Why then are we so strongly tempted to be discouraged by our weakness, depressed when we face depression and gloomy at the mere sight of clouds in the distance of our emotional landscape?
The exaggerated expectations towards oneself are born of self-love and thus lead to false pride. Such distorted expectations are the lure of the illusory energy to keep us overwhelmed in the seemingly impossible negatives, and thus distracted and unappreciative of the positive cleansing virtues of bhakti. By contemplating how God's glory is often best expressed in man's weakness, we can cultivate hope in a life of grace. Understanding that being annoyed at our tendencies towards anger invites new passions to follow, we might consider forgiveness instead.
The reminders of our own imperfections can serve as an invitation to the region of the heart, which, unlike the rational faculty of the head, is not judgmental. Because the heart is the realm of Bhakti, who is patient, kind, loving and gentle. And she is pleased when her servants express her virtues, and thus proceed towards perfection in becoming an instrument, measured by the master's yardstick instead of our own limited, imperfect and rigid standard.