Embarrassment and I aren’t strangers. We’ve cozied up way too often over the years. Many times I would’ve opted to crawl under the table instead of walk across the room.
Like the time I attended a shower for a girl I didn’t know well. I’d been to plenty of wedding showers, but these people had a custom I wasn’t familiar with. And I found myself in a predicament.
We played games, like you do at most wedding showers. Like at most wedding showers, the winner got a prize.
Here’s the twist: At this shower, the winner was obligated to hand her prize over to the future bride.
I missed the memo.
And as luck would have it, I won the first game. The prize was a nifty can opener with good grippy handles and a big fat turny knob. My own can opener was a cheap metal anorexic thing, which I was only too happy to toss because it required way too much effort.
Feeling like a boss, I flashed it around the room and dropped it in my bag.
Someone else won the second game and the third and the fourth. Soon a pattern emerged. Each of the winners–after being awarded their prize–walked over to the bride-to-be and handed it to her.
I slowly inched towards full-scale mortification as I realized my mistake. The prizes were for the bride, not the winners of the games.
My prize was in my bag. Or her prize was in my bag. Everyone had seen me put it there. I’d ostentatiously flashed it so all those losers could see what I’d won. Victorious or not, now I had a predicament.
I had to unostentatiously get it out of my bag and into the hands of the future bride.
You really ought to warn a gal or at least make an announcement: If you win the game, you don’t get to keep the prize.
I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. I just wish I’d known.
As I watched each winner hand her prize to the bride, I increasingly fought the urge to crawl into my bag and curl up beside her nifty can opener.
I needed a plan to slyly get the can opener OUT of my bag and into the bride’s stack of loot.
I thought about putting it on the floor and sort of kicking it across the room in her direction when no one was looking.
I’m no stranger to embarrassing situations.
You may have encountered an embarrassing situation or two yourself. Maybe your kid blurted out something private in front of your in-laws. Maybe he came home from college with an inappropriate tattoo.
Maybe you’ve put your foot in your mouth or a dinner guest found hair in his food.
Perhaps your husband inadvertently embarrassed you. Or maybe you went to work and realized you had on two different shoes or your shirt was inside out.
No one likes embarrassing moments. Embarrassment creeps across our faces and eventually lands in our minds where it turns to shame.
Shame is the belief we’re bad or somehow not good enough. Making a mistake doesn’t mean I’m bad.
Here’s the good news: Anytime I feel shame, I have an opportunity to experience healing and growth.
I’ve had lots of opportunities for healing and growth.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus “endured the cross and scorned the shame.”
He bore our shame on the cross, so we don’t have to live with it.
I can’t prevent awkward moments, but here’s how I can respond to them with grace and keep my focus on truth:
- Accept I will make mistakes.
- Mute my own critical voice.
- Laugh about it.
- Acknowledge (Oops!), apologize (I’m sorry), and move on.
- A mistake is one moment in time.
- Remember I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.
Mistakes are part of life. Even though it feels awkward, making a mistake doesn’t make you weak or less smart.
I might mess up, but God doesn’t. He knows exactly what I’m going to do. It’s an opportunity to seek His healing and grace.
That afternoon at the shower, God sent an angel. A little girl at the shower came over and sat beside me. When there was a distraction in the room, I quickly grabbed the can opener out of my bag, handed it to her, and asked her to give it to the bride-to-be.
The bride graciously accepted the gift and smiled at me. She must’ve known how I felt.
The burden of shame and embarrassment is heavy, especially if I don’t release it to God everyday.
I’ve been in plenty of embarrassing situations since then. No way to avoid them. But I’ve learned how to handle them better.
Now, when I attend a shower, I work shower etiquette into the conversations before the games begin.
Tell me about a time when you’ve found yourself in an awkward situation and how you handled it.
Always trying to be real,