When We Are Humiliated

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:10, NLT).

It will happen, perhaps again and again. We will be humiliated in front of others.

Some of us experienced it on the playground, being the last chosen for a team. We have felt the same about how we look. Bullies exist, inequities endure, and we have all been caught in the crosshairs of humiliation.

This isn’t a deserved humbling. Something happens – either a mistake by us or a jest by someone else – and we are embarrassed while others laugh at us.

Go ahead and remember your most humiliating moment.

The solution ultimately is that God loves us. But during ridicule, it’s difficult to feel any  love at all.

When I was writing this blog post, I tried to remember my most humiliating moment, and unfortunately, about 10 came to mind. Some were caused unfairly by others, and some by simple mistakes on my part.

On my list was a moment that happened when I was speaking in front of 400 people. 

This is the worst; a speaker’s nightmare. Make a mistake, a miscue in words, and too many witnesses laugh and, unfortunately, remember forever.

God still loves us.

The church that I pastored once hosted a conference with a nationally known speaker. Four hundred attended – from my church, from my community, and pastoral associates from around the country.

A recipe for humiliation.

Our church was in a crime-ridden neighborhood. The hotel where many were staying was three blocks away through this neighborhood. Okay to walk in daylight, but many would be walking to the hotel at night after the conference.

Concerned for the well-being of those attending the conference, I stood at the end of the night and said, “This is a bad neighborhood, and for those walking to the hotel, for safety’s sake, please walk in groups.”

Only that is not what I said. What I meant to say, but not what I said. I had a miscue and said instead, “This is a bad neighborhood, and for those walking to the hotel, for safety sex, please walk in groups.”

Yes, 400 people broke out in laughter. It was probably the biggest laugh that I ever received in 50 years of public speaking. 

I was humiliated.

I’m somewhat over this now and can laugh about it myself, and I’m sure that you just did too.  

It’s funny in a humiliating way.

The “misspeak” was a simple mistake – the kind that all public speakers sooner or later will make – but at the time, at that moment, with all 4oo people laughing at me, I wanted the Lord to call down the mountains on top of me, I wanted to hide, to crawl into a crevasse . . . 

But instead, I smiled and tried to make light of the moment.

I had to speak the next morning as part of the conference and then lead a break-out seminar. When I stood to speak, everyone started laughing again, and out of 400 people, not one person came to my seminar.

God still loved me.

These moments are remembered for a lifetime. We either move beyond them or allow them to stymie our future. Humiliation can bring focus with greater effort for improvement or a disenchanted bitterness.

Well, there you have it – only one of my most humiliating moments. Only one!

God loves me, and He loves you too! 

But when I get to heaven, I’m going to request that one moment of “safety ____” be erased from the eternal record of everyone’s memories.

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