If I am meeting a new group of people and have particular interest in becoming friends with those new people, there is a 110 percent chance that I will inadvertently humiliate myself. It happens with such stunning regularity that I’ve come to expect it, which is why I just shrugged and stood there when I set eight ears of corn on fire in front of our new friends in our new town in our new house. My husband leapt into action, and I just plugged my ears because smoke alarms are loud.
A few weeks later, this exact scenario repeated itself: a sluggish and resigned shrug from me, stares from our guests, heroic action from my husband, and another pile of flame-roasted corn awarded to our dogs.
My husband is not particularly surprised when I do these things. When we were first dating, he came to watch my basketball game, and I promptly face-planted three times. He sort of knew what he was in for from the onset.
I’d like to think that three decades of idiocy has taught me to make peace with the fact that embarrassment is an inevitable part of the human experience. But that’s about a million times easier to say than to accept, especially when you perpetually feel cast in the role of someone foolish. Years ago, when I was hosting a wedding shower for some girls in my community group (girls I did not yet know well, of course), I provided a grand show when my heel got caught as I descended the staircase into the living room where everyone was sitting. I essentially knee boarded down the entire flight with my arms extended like Frankenstein. My eventual clunk at the bottom of the stairs was met with the sound of crickets. Finally, someone said, “Are you okay?” and I said, “My knee hurts.”
I mean, why? Why do we have to been so painfully human? It’s the most annoying thing in the world to remember that you’re human. And of course, these reminders increase exponentially when we become mothers and escort our tiny humans around the world in all their screaming and pooping glory. Usually when I get myself or my kids get us into these situations, I speak with the only non-human I know (not the dogs): God. He’s gentle with me (and probably chuckling), reminding me that my limitations, my inability to have it all together, my wobbly knees, my face-plants, and my propensity to burn corn are all part of the deal. He’s the only one Who is perfect, steady, and not bound by limitations. He’s the only One Who doesn’t do things by accident, doesn’t stumble, doesn’t make mistakes. His weaknesses don’t sneak up on Him because He doesn’t have any. I can trust a God like that.
The truth is that embarrassment can be a gospel gift if I stop shaking my red face in shame and instead reflect, with awe, on the character of the Perfect God Who somehow loves His clumsy Caroline. When my kids knock down the paper towel display at Target, I can remember the God who balances the entire planet perfectly on its axis. When I accidentally say the wrong thing, I can remember the God Whose perfect words spoke creation into existence and continue to speak healing into our hearts through His Word.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the secret sauce to embarrassment survival: telling people. Nothing unites two friends more than shared horror stories. When a friend told me about the time she slipped in her dog’s diarrhea and landed flat on her back, I laughed until I cried and determined I’d make her hang out with me forever. There’s a sacred connection within the indignity of humanity—it reminds us that we all have the same role in the gospel story, that we’re all desperately in need of rescue, that we’re all just humans being human. What makes us think we can save our souls when we perpetually respond to “How are you doing?” with “Nothing much!” Oh Lord, help us all.
As we oafishly tromp through life, may every brush with our humanity serve as a reminder of our shared indignity and the beautiful grace so lavishly bestowed upon us by a loving and perfect Father Whose gospel story cannot be undone by face-plants and Who will by no means burn the corn.
Caroline Saunders is a writer, advocate of uncoolness, mother to two objectively adorable humans, and wife to Luke, a pastor and Aaron Rodgers look-alike. She uses her powers convincing her children not to be monsters, influencing women towards Jesus, eating guacamole, and creating a women's retreat experience called Story & Soul Weekend with her besties. She can be found oversharing here.