Sometimes we feel beneath others. We look up to others and see that they have more of what we want—or less of what we don’t.  This mindset can bring us down, triggering jealousy, enmity, and self-despair. We reason that if we were just in that higher place where the others are, we’d be much better off.


Yet sometimes being low can be a good place. Lao Tzu wrote that, “The river and sea can be kings of one hundred valleys, because they lie below them” 江海之所以能成为百川河流归往的地方,是因为他们安于处在低下的位置 (Dao De Jing 66).


Even though rivers flow downward and the bottom of the sea lies below the land, they have great strength by yielding to the forces of nature. By lying low, they allow themselves to be filled with life-giving water, enjoying abundance and enrichment that the higher land cannot.


Lao Tzu was writing about the importance of humility. By looking at the value of others and empowering them, we become stronger ourselves. We become leaders by helping others to achieve their goals, even those people we perceive as being above us. Such a mindset will cause us to stand high, eventually causing us to become kings of one hundred valleys.


As we prepare for Christmas Day, God calls us to do the same. When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was with child who will reign forever, she simply replied, “May it be done to me according to you word” (Luke 1:38). By lying low and putting aside her personal circumstances, she enabled God to do something great through her. In her conversation with Gabriel, the angel reminded her that “nothing will be impossible for God” (1:37).


Christmas is a time to reflect on how we yield to God’s loving will for our lives. As Mary, a simple handmaid of the Lord, was able to change the world through her act of acceptance, God can work the impossible through us by doing the same. When we feel others are above us, we can stand high by going low, embracing our own humility to become full of God’s abundant waters that will ultimately cause us to become kings ourselves.


This photo was taken at the Grand Canyon River Source and Course ecological park in Wuyi Shan, Fujian Province.