Embarrassed is often an understatement

Posted: June 21, 2011 in Church, Perspective

There have been three times in my life that I’ve been utterly embarrassed.  (Okay, there are probably more, but these are the ones that stick out).


I was once at a high school football game at a stadium I hadn’t been to before, and I made the simple mistake of using the women’s bathroom instead of the men’s.  It was empty when I went in, so I had time to get good and “situated” before I heard the sound of girls entering the room.  In a panic, I attempted to flee, only to meet more girls face-to-face.  I remember frantically searching for a way to explain myself, and I wound up blurting out:  “I was in here looking for my brother.”  Almost as soon as the words were out, I realized I’d just made an even greater idiot out of myself.  I’m in the WOMEN’S bathroom, looking for my little BROTHER.  That’s when I did my best Napoleon Dynamite and just ran away in shame.  (Fortunately, I never had to encounter those people again).


I was on a long road trip with some friends in college, and it had turned dark.  Most of us were sleepy, so we were contorting ourselves to try to get comfortable in the seats of this small SUV we were riding in.  At one point, I remember leaning up against the window, and stretching my hand out to the seat in front of me.  My hand felt something odd on the back right side of the seat in front of me, so – being curious and extremely sleepy – I started poking at it, honestly thinking it was a deformity in the seat.  Suddenly the “deformity” yanked away, and I realized it was the hand of the girl riding in the front seat (whom I barely knew).  I can only guess she thought I was trying to simply grab and hold her hand.  AWKWARD.  We never spoke of it again.


I was at church once a few years ago, and I walked up to a couple of my friends conversing in the back of the auditorium.  I looked at one of the guys and – simply to make small talk – said, “Hey, leave him alone.  He doesn’t have any money.”  We chuckled and went about meeting and greeting people in the room.  BUT… it turns out the one guy was indeed actually asking the other guy for a loan to get through some tough times.  I ask you… how to you recover from that kind of utter foot-in-mouth moment?


Embarrassing moments often stick with us because they strike at the heart of our character.  Maybe it’s good to have our ego bruised once in a while, lest we become too “full” of ourselves.  Sadly, however, embarrassing moments often strike down our confidence and can stick with us for years – maybe even making us live in fear of future embarrassment.

But, as Christians, we can’t live in constant fear of making a fool out of ourselves for the right reasons.  We must not be afraid to live a life the way Christ wants us to live it.  We must not be afraid to tell people, “Yes, I believe in a risen Savior.”

Yes, there are things that should embarrass us.  We should cringe horribly when people – claiming to act in the name of Christ – do crazy things like picket funerals of fallen soldiers or badmouth other denominations.  We should be embarrassed when prominent leaders fall into sin – NOT to beat up the the one caught in sin, but to become increasingly vigilant that we do not make such mistakes ourselves.  Maybe this could be called a “righteous” embarrassment – which, simply, is learning from your mistakes and sins and being much more careful in the future.

But when we become embarrassed about our faith – even to the point of denying our faith, in whole or in part – we forget the real humiliation that Christ suffered on a cross for our sins.  We forget the sacrifices of so many saints before us who made it possible for us to believe today.  And we forget that we have a mission – not to hide our faith from the world – but to proudly proclaim the gospel to all who need to hear it.

In the Message translation of Proverbs, Solomon writes:

Practice God’s law—get a reputation for wisdom; hang out with a loose crowd—embarrass your family. (Proverbs 28:7)

Also in the Message, God tells Israel in the book of Isaiah:

Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed. Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short. (Isaiah 54:1)

I read this to mean that God has got our back, if we are doing the work he has called us to do.  The question is:  Are we trusting in our own confidence… or are we trusting in God’s strength?

It is always worth pondering…

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