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Thursday, January 9, 2014

What Can Be Gained From Humiliation?



What can be gained from humiliation, I ask?
Can God convert such pain into a task?
What are we to do with this horrible yearning?
The only way is to convert this into learning.
“What is bad for your ego is good for your character.”
— Josh Shipp
Now I have to admit I am a novice at many things, and one of these things is basketball. Having been invited to a national carnival, to be chaplain of the State team, I could certainly do the chaplain thing in getting alongside the players and support volunteers, but my basketball knowledge – or, more appropriately, my significant lack – was bound to get me into trouble, eventually.
As I walked to the restroom one particular time, I had to stop at the end of one of the courts because the referee, who was officiating a play at that end of the court, was blocking my path. I had a sort of funny feeling momentarily about where I was standing, but I had nowhere else to stand given that there was a crowd of players not playing in the game seated on the floor behind me watching.
Then suddenly time went into slow motion – super slow motion, in fact. Before my eyes two large players contesting for the ball came rushing before me and collided with me, pushing me over onto two female athletes seated on the floor. This is where instant and significant embarrassment took over. Not only had I been part of the cause of people potentially being hurt, those potentially being hurt were women – and I hate violence against women. Suddenly I felt like the violator... a bad man!
As I picked myself up from the floor, apologising to the two women who I had fallen upon, about eye height another female athlete looked right into my eyes and said to me, words that were so true yet so instantly humiliating, “Look buddy, that’s not the best place to stand.” I felt like responding, “Well, I know that!” But I contained myself, dusted myself off, and proceeded to the restroom. If it is there, 30-seconds later, where I could look myself in the eye in the mirror and laugh at myself. I have found that the best way to cope with a humiliating circumstance – to pour contempt on my pride.
***
There is always the relationship to consider. One second earlier I had no relationship with these three women – the two I fell upon and the one who had admonished me. But that collision changed everything. Sometimes our relationships occur because we’ve had an unfortunate accident. Sometimes it’s our fault, whether we meant it or not. And we have to make the best of a bad circumstance.
The purpose of humiliating events is to promote learning. What seems to be a crushing experience can be turned for our and others’ good if we convert what is humiliating into something humble. Learning to genuinely laugh at ourselves – though not derisively – is an effective way of moving on.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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