The continuing story…
Seven years ago God used a ridiculously peculiar situation to change me.
During that summer my daughters and I went to visit my dad. He raises and rides horses like they were part of his DNA. We enjoyed riding around the path of the farm—endless circles because our equestrian skills were not stellar. (The girls can ride—I think they were holding back for me.) After a few circuitous routes we came back to the barn. I decided I didn’t want to ride anymore, so I decided to turn my horse over to someone else. While my cousin held the reins of the horse I attempted to dismount. I use the word attempt purposely because when I threw my leg over the horse I leaned too far onto the saddle horn.
This would have been fine except once again a said undergarment’s underwire got caught around the saddle horn. As I descended, the undergarment remained with the saddle. And everyone in my vicinity caught a glimpse of me no one should ever see in the light of day. For a brief moment (which seemed to go on forever) I hung suspended—draped over the horse’s side—trying to decide what to do. Mortified I tried to untangle and unhook myself. No one else knew what to do either. So, they left me to my own devices. One of my daughters turned so that she hid most of me from view. I managed to get loose and dropped to the ground. Quickly I shuffled and wiggled to try and salvage the situation. Blood moved hot up my neck and into my face. I thought I would cry right there; but, my daughters were watching me.
I turned and walked the long trek to the house.
It took a long time to repair the damage—to my undergarment and to me. Safety pins were involved and some serious self-talk and prayer.
During that one hundred foot walk to the house and the time cloistered in the bathroom God did a miracle. Seriously. I knew I had two choices: this embarrassing incident could ruin my day and I could remain in the house hiding for the rest of the time far away from anyone who was privy to the whole scene (which was too many to count) or I could laugh and just take it in stride. I could laugh and admit that I was nothing more than a forty-something year old woman who just had a really embarrassing, but quite funny, accident. I stood there in that bathroom and turned around and looked in the mirror.
There were no tell-tale signs of my debacle: my face no longer beamed fiery red, my skin cooled to the touch again, my mascara remained where it belonged and said undergarment was back in place and fully functional. No lasting damage. I looked at that woman in the mirror and grinned. Straightened my shoulders. Turned around. Took a deep breath. Went back outside.
My daughters never did say, but I always wondered if they considered me crazy or wanted to cheer for me when I appeared back in the crowded barn lot.
God enabled me to release so many things that day. He used an incredibly embarrassing situation to free me—from the unhealthy desire to appear dignified, from the fear of being far too exposed and from the fear of being rejected because of that exposure. God used this peculiar situation to liberate me from the fetters and confines of my own social construct. To free me from allowing embarrassment to rob me of the confidence God had been building in me for quite a while.
I went back outside.
Some of the guests laughed, but this time I laughed with them.
Recently I landed in another peculiar situation. I am a magnet, a true north, for these fiascos. This one involved texting and prayer. Occasionally when I am driving I decide I need to pray for someone. I pull out my phone and dictate to Google Speak. It then translates my words into a text. This was a brilliant discovery for me. I can’t text nearly as fast as I can talk (I can’t hardly do anything as fast as I talk). Well, Google Speak has a very difficult time translating my voice and my words. There have been many stories of the autocorrect feature of texting causing some very questionable texts. My Google Speak and I have not been immune to this malady.
I prayed for a precious friend the other day. She is navigating some really rough waters right now and she was on my mind. I prayed for her using Google Speak and then hit send. Later, we were talking and she said she really got a laugh while reading my last prayer. This caused some internal concern and worry. Certainly I had not intentionally been funny. She told me to reread it.
When I did I thought I would simply cover my face, crawl in the deepest hole I could find and not emerge until everyone had forgotten me. I asked God to give something to this friend, but Google Speak’s translation caused my heart rate to soar. The wording in the prayer text said (and yes, I quote), Please give her herpes. HERPES.
I thought I would just die of the heat of embarrassment. She assured me she understood it was autocorrect and it had caused her to laugh out loud. Did I learn my lesson? No. I sent a Google Speak message to my husband during church letting him know where I was. I explained I would be there at this place waiting for the Scalfs. When my husband read the text it said, waiting for the cats. I am not overly fond of cats, so I think at first he was quite confused. Then he realized what I actually said. He laughed. Of course he did.
Finally, I laughed. Really laughed. And the embarrassment slid off my back like water off an otter (I am very tired of the cliché: water off a duck’s back.)
I think God was laughing too.
Dictionary.com defines embarrass[ed] as: to cause confusion and shame to; make uncomfortably self-conscious.
I decided to share these peculiar situations because they are now funny. Humorous. Somewhat absurd. But at the time they were anything but. At the time they were painfully uncomfortable.
There are a few other peculiar situations in my life that would make these seem quite tame. And at the time I wondered if I should share any of them. Did they have any intrinsic value other than they were stories that given time and distance were just a little funny? Is that the limit of their value or purpose?
These situations were fairly benign, not one of them left any permanent damage or scars, but the ones left untold did.
In each situation I fought and struggled with the embarrassment of being duped, of being exposed, of appearing less than dignified and of making mistakes. Every situation made me feel self-conscious. I felt inadequate. Sometimes I felt just plain stupid. Often times even shamed. All of these contributed to my weak self-esteem and lack of personal respect.
In the garden Adam and Eve battled much of the same. While they were hiding during the cool of the day they understood that they had been duped. They realized they were now exposed, and they pinned together fig leaves to cover their exposure. Adam and Eve felt far more than mere embarrassment; they experienced shame.
But God came into the garden and covered their shame.
And God came into my garden and covered my shame.
Over and over and over.
My peculiar situations are not over. I am quite sure I will land in another one sooner rather than later. The question is not if, but when. Perhaps even today.
And every time it happens I have a choice.
It is my choice how I handle these peculiar situations.
I choose whether to laugh or to hide.
If I hide I rob myself of the comfort and provision of the Father. If I hide I must construct my own coverings. If I hide I must find a way to absorb the shame and embarrassment.
If I laugh I reveal my hiding place. If I laugh I can come to the Father and say look at what I have done again. If I laugh I release the bottled up fear of exposure and the weight of shame. To Him.
Today, please don’t hide. Regardless of what your peculiar situation is or might be please do not hide.
The momentary anguish of being exposed and embarrassed before God will be swallowed up in his grace and goodness. The uncomfortable self-consciousness will be dissipated in the wake of his loving-kindness. The dread and weight of shame will be dissolved through the extension and power of his forgiveness.
Choose today to laugh. To reveal your hiding place.
Take it from me—it is far, far better to laugh.