My oldest sister left for college when I was four years old. I remember that, as well as one of her first visits home a few weeks later. She was bringing friends home, and I was instructed by my mother not to show off for her guests.
But here’s the thing—I honestly didn’t know what “showing off” meant. But, because I was a four-year-old living in a house full of adults, I usually understood these things. I had also already internalized a lesson I grew to appreciate as I got older: when you don’t understand something, keep quiet about it. If you start asking too many questions, they may decide you’re too young for the conversation and send you out of the room. The best information comes when they forget you’re there and start talking freely.
So the friends arrived. They fussed over me for a little while, then got distracted by talking to each other. Desperate to swing the conversation back over to ME, I grabbed a toy off my bed (which was, ironically, a pillow shaped like a hot dog on a bun), and walked casually through the living room. My second-oldest sister pulled me aside and informed me that I was showing off. It was truly a light-bulb moment for me. Oh, so THAT’S what “showing off” means. I remember then hiding in my room in embarrassment. I’m sure, though, my humiliation was short-lived, and I regrouped enough to display further brattiness over the course of the weekend.
I hope to have a more developed post on this idea up at OOTO on Monday, but I’ve been thinking about how our lives swing between wanting people to look at us, then hiding in shame when they do.
Besides that, you can only fit so many anecdotes into one blog post, so this one is going here.
I have a lot of other examples of this. Some of them aren’t that interesting; many of them can’t be shared. There are times when I have embarrassed myself so badly I thought it would be fatal (or perhaps just wished it would be fatal). There are times when I have been too timid for my own good. Some of those things had serious consequences. In others, circumstances arose that prevented me from creating too much of a disaster.
We are determined to mess up our lives. We are either scrambling for attention or hiding in shame. But God is in ultimately in control. He is sovereign over all. And even if his intervention might not mean a lot to the world at large, it often means a great deal to us personally.