Have you ever been embarrassed? I mean, really, really embarrassed? The kind of embarrassment where you honestly entertain fantasies of changing your name and running off to some different location where nobody knows you and where you can maintain the fiction that certain humiliating events never really happened?
I sure have, and I bet, so have you. Years ago, I was singing on the church worship team. Every Sunday morning, we’d sing for the first part of the service, the pastor would preach the message, then we’d come back up on stage to sing the final song. Usually I would sit in front during the entire message but this particular morning I had to visit the restroom so I headed down the side aisle and out into the front hallway where the restrooms were. After I was done I quickly headed back into the sanctuary where the pastor was just finishing up his message. I hurried up the center aisle because I saw that the rest of the worship team was already standing up and beginning to move up onto the stage. I found my place with the others and sang the final song to finish out the service, unaware anything was wrong.
After the service was over a good friend came up to me, pulled me aside, and whispered something in my ear. I immediately excused myself and headed out the first available door into an empty hallway where I found, to my horror, that she wasn’t joking with me when she told me that my skirt was tucked up behind me and my slip was showing from the rear. Yes, my slip had been hanging out during that long trip down the center aisle and up onto the stage for all the people to see and needless to say, I was very embarrassed!
Now I’ve had many more embarrassing experiences I could tell you about but I won’t bore you with the gory details… don’t even get me started about the time I once asked a lady when her due date was and she wasn’t even pregnant! Yep, “stick-my-foot-into-my-mouth-itis” has proven to be a reoccurring illness for me throughout my 59 years on planet Earth. But doing or saying something that ends up being humiliating to us isn’t the only way we can be exposed. Sometimes our sinful heart can lead us to do and say things from motives that aren’t right and those things can be pointed out to us by others, exposing our failures in the process. I don’t think I’m the only one who knows what it’s like to be selfish, am I right?
It’s very easy for us to go on living our lives, responding to people in very predictable ways, without ever knowing why we do the things we do. It’s been said that we tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. I’ve seen that to be absolutely true, in me and in others. We can excuse our own temper, or our impatience, or our perfectionism, or our insecurity as just being “who I am” without ever addressing the selfish, sinful heart that fuels these responses.
Just like my friend was a blessing to me when she informed me about my “rear-view mishap”, so also God is a blessing to us when He puts a finger on our sinful words and actions or when He allows us to be in a very embarrassing situation. Our pride is a powerful, destructive thing and it needs to be systematically demolished on an ongoing basis.
It’s difficult and humiliating things like these, or better said, my reaction to things like these, that can reveal just how self-focused I can be. Bottom line: I can’t be focused on two things at one time; I can’t be focused on bringing glory to the Lord Jesus and also be focused on how I look, or how I’m perceived by others. I’ll either be focused on building up my own reputation or I’ll be focused on accurately portraying the reputation of Jesus… not both.
Peter said in I Peter 5:5-6. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’. Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the proper time.” If God is allowing some kind of embarrassment or humbling thing to happen to you or to me, then He has a good reason to. God knows that we can’t bring glory to Him when we’re bound up in the chains of self-focus or self-delusion. He will allow certain times of embarrassment or times where the spotlight of His Spirit is shining deep into the not-so-good motives of our hearts. He does this in order to show us just how much He loves us and to teach us that we belong to Him and we exist to glorify Him only, not ourselves.
Jesus sees us as we really are; not the carefully crafted and maintained image we may portray to others, and definitely not the sanitized, overly-sanctified view of ourselves we might nurse deep inside our hearts. No, our Savior Jesus sees us in all our actions, our intentions, our failures, successes, and all the in-betweens… and He loves us absolutely, just where we are. He died on the cross to break sin’s claim on us and to set us free to become His children… and as His children, to become like Him in our character so this world will see that Jesus is real and He is God!
So, the next time you find yourself with your skirt tucked up and your slip hanging out the back, I hope you can use the situation as an opportunity to learn to not take yourself so seriously. May you find the grace to laugh at yourself instead. And the next time your sinful selfishness rears its ugly head in your responses to others, may you use that as an opportunity to be honest with yourself and admit to yourself whatever it is you need to own. In doing these, you will find the freedom that comes only from not having to be perfect, but relaxing in the love of Jesus, and out of gratitude for the amazing love He has for you, offering all of who you are to others to be a blessing to them. Our blog name says it well: may we all be broken (humbled) and spilled out (used) for His glory.