I’ve never understood those people who hem and haw when they’re asked about their most embarrassing moments. You know who they are- they shift around awkwardly until they finally admit they’ve never really found themselves in a truly embarrassing situation.
I always tell them I’ll share one of mine, because I’ve got A LOT.
One of my most embarrassing moments occurred when I was teaching music in Illinois. We took most of the elementary school on a reward field trip to an adventure play land. Somehow, I ended up with a large group of students who wanted to play mini gold. All the other adults had mysteriously disappeared so off I went with twelve students trailing behind me, enthusiastically swinging clubs at stationary objects and each other.
I should have been the mature, wise one, the only one not attacking bushes with a tiny metal club, and it started out that way. However, as it tends to happen when I’m around, things went, um, sliding downhill when one of the girls knocked her ball into a little pond.
I confidently told the students to step back from the water; I would get the ball. Afterall, I was the teacher and the only one in full possession of her motor skills. No problem.
I crouched down next to the edge of the pond and leaned forward to get the ball. My sandals betrayed me. Suddenly, I was sliding down the algaed side of the pond with no way to stop. The next thing I knew, the mature, wise one was waist deep in really gross water.
The students stared at me in stunned silence. I could tell they all wanted to fall down laughing but were afraid to do it since I was a teacher. One girl, the one whose ball I “rescued,” took off running, shrieking that I’d fallen in a pool. The other adults reappeared, thinking that I was drowning.
Now there were more witnesses to my humiliation.
I squelched out of the hideous pond, golf ball in hand, and headed for the bathroom and an attempt at drying myself off with paper towels and a hand dryer. Now that they knew I wasn’t drowning, the students were howling with laughter and racing in all directions to tell others I’d fallen in a pond. One girl gleefully told me she’d remember that moment until she was a senior- it was going to be her senior memory at graduation.
I’d like to tell you the pond incident was a one-time thing. While I’ve only fallen in one pond, there have been many other moments of humiliation. I’ve had my slip fall off in church, I’ve cried in the DMV, I’ve fallen down the stairs in college, I once destroyed the accompaniment to “Happy Birthday” when I tried to play it without sheet music, and… I could go on.
Here’s my point:
There are a lot of things in life to be embarrassed about. Being single doesn’t need to be one of them.
It shouldn’t be one of them.
Last week I realized how often I let other peoples’ views of singleness color my own. Popular music, movies, pastors, co-workers, grandmothers- they’re the ones who tell me I need (yes, need) to be married. They unanimously depict life with another person as good and life alone as bad.
The more I hear that message the more I start to believe it.
There have been many times when I’ve been embarrassed to tell someone I’m single and don’t have kids, usually because I know what’s going to follow- arm-patting, murmured sympathy, and then the assurance that I’ll find a really great guy “someday.”
Just like that, my life has been weighed, judged, and found wanting and I’m stuffing down the feelings of inferiority again.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Is being single really so bad? Should I feel embarrassed about it?
No, definitely not.
Why should I feel ashamed about it? If other people choose to demean, make assumptions, or feel sorry for me, that’s their choice. It doesn’t have to be mine.
Falling in a pond in front of a group of school children? Yeah, that’s embarrassing.
Doing life as a single woman? Not so much.
The next time someone asks you if you’re married, have a boyfriend, or anything else relational, hold you head up high, look them in the eye, and tell them the truth proudly.
Their responses don’t have to define you.
This week I’m thankful for the embarrassing moments in life. They keep us humble and remind us what we should and shouldn’t worry about. This week, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!