After speaking with undocumented parents, I know what it means to be humbled

I never understood what people meant when they said, “I am humbled that . . .” I’ve heard this from famous people accepting awards or from people receiving some grand recognition.

The expression sounded insincere. It actually came off as self-aggrandizing: “Let me try to be ordinary, try to sound unpretentious.” So I never used the expression.

But today something happened that made me feel . . . I guess the only way I can describe it is “humble.”

I asked a young man I’ve known for a few months if I could interview him and his family about their lives under a Trump presidency. His parents, who are undocumented, immediately agreed.

They welcomed me into their home, offered me orange juice when I arrived. Even though the parents and I are about the same age, I addressed them as “señor” and “señora.”  They addressed me as “maestro.”

They shared the story of their journey here and their lives, now filled with fear, honestly, comfortably, as if they knew me.

I left their home inspired and more than anything grateful. Despite the fear that undocumented immigrants live in these days, this mother and father who do not know me opened their door, their hearts and told me how scared they are because of our president.  But they remain committed to working hard, to creating a better life for the next generation.

As a U.S. citizen, I can’t even imagine what life must be like for parents without papers. I think of my own children and the respect I have for undocumented parents grows. They really did and continue to sacrifice their lives. As a father, I respect and admire undocumented parents immensely.

So I think “being humbled” is that feeling, that moment when someone you respect and admire has faith in you.  That moment you realize: they see what you’re doing as something just, something valuable. And the trust and respect they humbly extend to you is something larger than you ever imagined or expected.

Today, I am humbled.

As I listened to the recording of the interview this evening, I became overwhelmed with emotion at the trust this mother and father put in me to share their struggle.

May the goodness in the universe help me find the words to do their story justice.

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