Humiliation Is Good For the Soul

A couple of years ago, I had some stomach pains that my doctor thought might be my gall bladder acting up, so he told me he wanted me to get an ultrasound.

“A what?” I asked.

“An ultrasound,” he said.

“Like pregnant women get?”

“Exactly.”

“But I’m a guy,” I reminded him.

He handed me a piece of paper with a phone number and told me to go make the appointment. I did not want to obey doctor’s orders, but my stomach was killing me, so what could I do?

I showed up at the medical complex a few days later dreading the appointment. I have two daughters and have been through joy-filled ultrasounds with each one. I somehow doubted this one would be quite the same.

I prayed that God would at least send me an elderly nurse who’d done this a million times. Instead, God laughed at me and sent me a girl who looked like she’d just graduated college and moved out of her sorority house earlier that day. I had the feeling I was the first man she’d had for this particular procedure, and I was sure her friends would get a big laugh from her Facebook post as soon as I left the office.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, I thought. Maybe there’s a special non-humiliating ultrasound they do for men.

When she dimmed the lights and made me take off my shirt, I knew I was out of luck. She reached into a cabinet and brought out the clear belly jelly they keep in what looks like an old-fashioned diner mustard bottle. Oh, Lord, I prayed, not the jelly. I’d seen it done to my wife many times, but, just to remind you again, I’m a guy. The only jelly I want on my stomach is from a Krispy Kreme doughnut I’ve eaten too fast on the way to church.

With no sympathy for my total degradation, the nurse smeared the jelly on me and began to scan me with the ultrasound wand.

“Is it a boy?” I asked. She wasn’t amused. “I think I felt it kick,” I said. Again, nothing. I wanted to grab the ultrasound wand, tap it like a microphone and say, “Is this thing on?”

Instead, I gave up my attempts to break the awkward silence and just laid there and let the nurse do her job. All the while, I couldn’t help thinking of what a great sense of humor God has.

People frequently ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, but no one ever thinks to ask, “Why do funny things happen to good people? Ridiculous things?”

Maybe it’s God’s way of saying, lighten up. Stop taking yourself so seriously. You’re not in control here; I am. Just relax and enjoy the life I gave you.

The responsibilities of the grown-up world can wear us out fast. On the days when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, let’s remember the One who carries the weight of the universe on His. He’s not fretting about the outcome of tomorrow, so why should we?

So, the next time you find yourself in a ridiculous situation, stop and enjoy a good laugh with God. He’s not laughing at you. He’s laughing near you.

Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time

The last time I danced in Mexico I wound up in the hospital. I certainly didn’t plan it that way. Let’s just say I got caught up in the moment.

Over Christmas break during my senior year at Indiana University, several of us went to serve at a children’s home in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. We painted, played with kids and did whatever we could to help out while we were there.

One night, the missionaries who hosted us threw a huge neighborhood birthday party for one of the kids in the home. Between the piƱata and the loud music, it quickly escalated into a fiesta of enormous proportions.

And then people started to dance. It was a weird “Saturday Night Fever” kind of moment, where the crowd would part, leaving an open space in the middle of the dance floor for someone to show off their moves.

I’m not a dancer by trade, nor by genetics apparently, but I do like to have fun, and what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico, right? So, before I knew it, I found myself in the middle of the dance floor with all eyes on me. No rhythm. No coordination. No problem. What I lacked in talent I would compensate for with enthusiasm.

I’ll spare you the awkward details of how I attempted to dazzle the crowd with my unique brand of hip-hop acrobatics, but, suffice it to say, I wasn’t exactly a Backstreet Boy. I had to do something drastic, something spectacular. It was time to show them what I was made of.

It was time to unleash my signature move, “the flip.” It did not go according to plan. With one clumsy stumble, “the flip” turned into “the slip” and my dreams of dancing with the stars crashed to the pavement with a sickening snap.

Instead of busting a move, I broke a collar bone. What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In retrospect, it sounds ridiculous, but how many times have we all gone down the road of making a foolish choice that made perfect sense in the moment?

I’ve met smart, well-educated people who’ve made some of the dumbest choices you could imagine, choices that led to nothing but regret. The dad who walks out on his family. The cashier who gets caught stealing. The driver who’s had one drink too many. All of which, I’m sure, seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Bible says there’s a way that seems right to a man but, in the end, it leads to death. The older I get, the more I realize I need someone much bigger than me, much wiser than me, to help me make sound decisions or I’ll end up making mistakes far more painful than a broken collar bone. Mistakes that could cost me relationally, financially and spiritually. Thank God for God. It’s amazing that even for someone as foolish as me, life-giving wisdom is only a prayer away. Now, that really makes me want to dance.

Or, on second thought, maybe not.