ONE evening some friends and I were gathered around a crackling campfire, and we got to talking about ``life's most embarrassing moments.'' Each of us had tales to tell, and we all had a good laugh. It's nice to be with friends you can trust to love you in spite of your mistakes and blunders. And it even helps to realize that you're not the only one ever to make a fool of yourself. But I came away from that evening thinking that each of us was carrying around a self-consciousness that needed more than friendly commiseration -- it needed healing. In some cases the embarrassment and perhaps hurt that we feel can fester in our thoughts. We may try to forget what has troubled us, but often this isn't enough to do away with the undercurrent of self-doubt and unworthiness that may be hindering our development. In fact, I was interested to find, as I considered the ways I had been letting embarrassments hold me back, that the word embarrass can also mean hinder or impede. This helped me to see how embarrassment could block our way forward through self-consciousness.
The thinking I was doing also led me to an interesting passage in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. She writes: ``At present mortals progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous. They are slaves to fashion, pride, and sense. Sometime we shall learn how Spirit, the great architect, has created men and women in Science. We ought to weary of the fleeting and false and to cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood.''1
This ``highest selfhood'' is what we find as we begin to see man as God's child. God's child is beautiful, intelligent, and strong (not mistake-prone, foolish, careless, inadequate, or incompetent). Embarrassment is no part of the child of God, for God alone is the approver of His perfect creation, and He forever delights in His child.
We do, however, have to live our highest selfhood individually in order to find freedom from the apparent inevitability of mortal embarrassments. A favorite passage of mine from the Bible has helped me to understand how to do this: ``Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.''2
As we divide, or sort carefully through, the thoughts we are accepting about man -- our genuine, spiritual identity -- we need to hold to the good and reject the false, limiting, mortal claims. Then we will find that we don't need to succumb to stifling embarrassment. We will be freer to move ahead ourselves and to encourage others to do the same.
This is exactly what happened for me in the months that followed the campfire confessions. I found myself able to feel more consistently God's approval. I was able to let go of embarrassing episodes from the past. I didn't need to hang on to them or connect them to myself as an irreversible pattern of behavior. I decided to go ahead with an area of work that I had long wanted to try but had been held back from by self-doubt. Before long I was established in this work and rejoicing in a greater appreciation for the goodness of myself and all those around me.
When I told this experience to a friend, she commented on how embarrassed the disciples must have felt when Christ Jesus asked them at the end of their journey to Capernaum, ``What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?''3 Jesus knew full well that they had been discussing who among them ``should be the greatest,'' and his question put them on the spot. Perhaps the question made them realize their spiritual immaturity for even having such an argument, for they were too abashed even to reply. Nevertheless, they must have seen enough of their own ``highest selfhood'' to keep progressing, for their continued spiritual growth could not have occurred had they allowed embarrassments to limit their spiritual achievements, which still bless us today.
In a degree we, too, have such contributions to make to the world as well. And we can expect to see progress in our ability to do so as we cease to attach embarrassments to ourselves -- or to our family members, our friends, our business associates, or anyone else. We can increasingly acknowledge instead that the man of God's creating is free from embarrassments, free to be what God has created him to be.
1Science and Health, p. 68. 2II Timothy 2:15. 3See Mark 9:33, 34.
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BIBLE VERSE: Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.... And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
Psalms 119:41, 42, 45, 46