Courage and Humility 2020


Humility is hard to come by. Ego is not. Courage to overcome selfishness is as elusive as goldfish in the ocean.

I lost my voice this year during COVID. Did it happen to you, too? 

To add insult to 2020’s injuries, my husband had a serious heart attack. I prepared myself to take care of my dearest friend in sickness. He prepared himself for a lifetime of sitting in a chair and wishing he could walk the golf course, yell at a Reds game, or clap for the choirs at May Festival. 

My husband’s heart attack in February was followed almost immediately by the virus. Slowly, then suddenly, our favorite restaurants closed, and even the churches shut their doors. Toilet paper was nowhere to be found, but we were fortunate to have a friend who make masks for us. Our Community Meal at church had to shut its doors, managing to open again for hand-out sandwiches made by a congregant who owns a coffee shop. 

The heart attack demanded all motion and caretaking. I counted and doled out my husband’s medications, drove him everywhere, worried about his inability to sleep, shopped for food and did all the cooking, which was a task we had shared. My famously upbeat husband went through post heart attack wonderings about why this had happened to a healthy man and whether he would ever regain strength. He had to wear a life vest that would shock him if he had arrhythmia. Being my brave guy, he didn’t complain, not once, while we wrestled the ultra tight thing on and off and changed the batteries daily.  I organized all the paperwork that follows a medical emergency and carried a file case of it wherever we went, particularly to doctors’ appointments. One day, his blood pressure crashing, he ended up the hospital again for a few days. We waited for an ICD pacemaker, which was months away. He talked. I listened. We prayed.

Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Gradually, the reality of caregiving started to set in. I began to tire. The worry of getting COVID and bringing it home was constant. Always less careful than my husband, my inclination was to drive places and use public restrooms and shop at the grocery, even when not everyone was willing to wear masks. I wanted to keep going to the gym. After all, wouldn’t I wear a mask and wipe down my equipment?I knew without the gym, I’d gain back the weight I’d just lost and was already having trouble keeping off.

My husband is a reader, but with the heart attack and the constrictions of COVID, he begged me to read aloud with him. Oh no, I thought. I’ll take care of you, but I’m not going to waste my time that way! Having to read his serious, nonfiction books? I had other things to do: cooking and shopping for food (and resisting the bakery aisle), writing (but I’d lost my voice, so most of the time I was simply kicking myself to get going), cleaning the house (which I did only when we had to step around cat hair refuse), and entering into the new technology of Zoom: Church Services, Sunday School, Bible Study, Worship Committee, you name it.

Recently our pastor offered us a ‘test’ we could take to identify our gifts. Mine were teaching, knowledge, and administration: not a whit of mercy, compassion, or hospitality. (Thank goodness there are others in our church with those gifts, or we’d become a research institute.)

My husband looked so sad, sitting there in his big man’s chair, reading at all hours of the day and night because sleep eluded him. I watched his body lose its own weight and saw his shoulders start to slump when he walked.

Would anyone but a ghoul jeopardize the well being of her/his/their spouse?

I sighed at the need to be patient but started reading ten pages a day with my husband. It helped his breathing, which tended to be shallow and weak. And it greatly helped his outlook. The energy we put into our discussions improved both his health & sleep and our combined knowledge.  Together we have now worked through:

Sincerely Media on Unsplash


The Jewish Gospels by Daniel Boyarin

God in Search of Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Nonviolent God and The Nonviolent Atonement by J. Denny Weaver

The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

We are presently reading Who Will Be a Witness by Drew Hart

The last two books above are for our adult Sunday School discussions. I hope that you are part of such communications through your church, social group, or book club.

Upcoming books we will read together are:

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Becoming Anabaptist by J. Denny Weaver

American Harvest by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

and Reading the Bible After Christendom by Lloyd Pietersen

Yes, my husband’s reading taste is not inclined toward mysteries or even literary fiction. Beyond our reading, he downs many other books per year. I read, but not nearly at that pace.

Who would have thought that caregiving would be a teaching moment and would bring me even closer to my husband.

In his book Best Self, Mike Bayer examines the obvious manifestations of Ego, such as: needing to win, talking badly about others, and bullying. But he also presents a list of ‘less obvious examples of Ego.’ They include: seeing oneself only through other people’s eyes—check; isolating oneself because of lack of healthy confidence—double check; and apologizing excessively so that people will like us—embarrassed check. Bayer gives other examples and I don’t fit all of them, but I do struggle with these three.

In a recent sermon, our pastor Randy Miller preached about calculating the state of our Ego vs Humility:

If devil comes as an angel to praise you, will you recognize it?

Can you rejoice with those who rejoice? Can you plant seeds that others will enjoy?

Will you get in touch with the place so down deep that no one else can see it? Your real self is where God is waiting.

May we create a strong, humble, and courageous 2021.

I hope everyone finds their own version of my husband’s recent, happy renewals: gratefully golfing, even though it’s with a cart, and finally getting into rehab where he gets to work out under the watchful eye of the cardio guys. 

I’m grateful—and relieved in a fluttery way. Sometimes, I’m even able to find my voice, now.

Oh, I did give up my gym. I (sure as vanilla-cake-with-inch-high-frosting) miss it, though.

Tom Swinnen on Unsplash


I welcome your comments:

{Thank you to my niece, Adz (Liechty) Kogan, for taking the picture that is this blog’s featured image. Her blog is:}

Best wishes and have a good week.







Posted in

Greta Holt


  1. Frank on December 4, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Not only a wonderful example of courage and humility, but also one of mercy and compassion. Not a whit of the latter two, I beg to differ. Thanks for sharing!

    • Greta Holt on December 4, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Friends like you have kept Tim going and improved his health. Let’s look forward to a much improved 2021. Thanks for reading this, Frank.

  2. Sandra Snyder on December 4, 2020 at 11:23 am

    I love your writing, friend—I was able to visualize and absorb every word. My heart broke a few times when I thought about our happy, vibrant Tim feeling extremely less than. You’ve both been through so much this year. You share such a close bond, and are blessed to have each other. Thank you for taking such good care of Tim, Greta; we’re so glad our friend is doing better. Greg and I love and are praying for you both.

    • Greta Holt on December 4, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Such a heartfelt response, Sandra. Thank you from both of us. All of us pray for recovery and peace in 2021.

  3. Nicola Mendenhall aka Nicky on December 4, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Greta – Reading your post made my heart slow down and then speed up. I loved hearing what felt like a behind the scenes description of how you are coping with so much. Your honesty admirable and helps me feel not so alone with the less than desirable parts of my personality. Seeing oneself only through other people’s eyes really helped me think about how much emphasis I put on what others think. Apologizing excessively so that people will like us fits for me too and I would add, I give others excessive compliments for the same reason.
    After reading this, I feel like I know you better and really like you! Of course, I’ve always liked you but now it feels like a more personal connection. Thanks for writing this.

    • Greta Holt on December 4, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      O my goodness, that’s another one: excessive compliments!’Like me, like me!’ may actually be ‘Don’t hurt me.’? Hmmm. Thanks for reading this, and a very happy Seasons Greetings to you and your loved ones.

  4. Diane Gottlieb on December 7, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Just beautiful, Greta. So humble. So generous. (I didn’t detect even a hint of ego.)
    Thank you for this inspiration.
    Happy holidays and wishing you a joyous and healthy new year.

    • Greta Holt on December 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Right back at you, dear Diane!

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