Friday, November 11, 2011

Humbled or Humilitated

I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to impress the beautiful blonde on whom I had a growing crush. She was on a floating raft, enjoying her break from her job in a camp kitchen and I was getting the catamaran ready for sail. I was a 19-year-old camp counselor assigned to take a group of 8-year-old girls sailing on Pine Lake. It was a perfect day and the perfect setup to impress her with both my strong, manly sailing skills, and my tender, entertaining way with the fine young ladies on the sailboat.

There was a nice breeze that day, but not too strong to make the ride challenging or rough. The girls climbed on the boat all bundled in their life vests. They were excited about the ride and I pushed off with great confidence that they’d be telling fun stories around the camp about their ride. The boat was a big, heavy, homemade catamaran-style sailboat. It was kind of clunky to maneuver, but it was stable and virtually impossible to turn over. The breeze grabbed the sail immediately, but it pushed me in the wrong direction—toward the neighbor’s beach. I brought the sail down, hopped off the boat and pushed it out it again; climbed back on and pulled up the sail. The same thing happened again, this time blowing me into a marshy, weedy area of the lake. The excitement had worn off the girls’ faces and I began to hear words such as “boring” and “you don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”

Growing in frustration, I jumped off the boat again; except this time I didn’t make it completely into the water. My swim shorts had caught on an I-hook that was used to tie off the ropes when the boat was docked. My shorts hooked just above the bottom seam on one of my legs and tore all the way up to the waistband. When the hook hit my waistband, the tearing stopped and so did I. There I was… hanging by my torn shorts from the side of a rickety boat in the middle of cattails. I tried to shake myself free hoping the band would just break but it didn’t. I dangled awkwardly with more and more of my bare butt pointing upward at the girls. It’s safe to say that the girls were no longer bored… they were horrified. Awkwardly, I lifted myself up on the boat enough to untangle myself from the hook. Just as I was getting free from my mess, my buddy Bruce, sitting on his lifeguard perch, noticed my plight. Instead of sending help, he called out on his megaphone for all to hear, “Hey, Phil, everything okay?” With bare butt showing and girls crying, I looked up to see if one particular person on a certain raft was looking. And… she was.

With shredded but free shorts, I jumped back into the water and slowly walked the boat back along the shore toward the camp dock. When I was close enough, I pushed it to the dock and a friendly staff member helped the girls off the boat. There in the water I sat, hiding my ripped shorts while I convinced another counselor to run to my cabin to get me another pair. There was no way I was going to walk out of that water! The entire time, the jokes didn’t stop.

Some would say that circumstance was humbling. I would call it humiliating. There’s a big difference between humility and humiliation, isn’t there? Humiliation is associated with ridicule, shame, embarrassment, and failure. But humility is a virtue; something to cultivate in our lives. It’s something Jesus modeled for us. Look for the words or phrases that describe humility in the verses below.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2.5-8 (Message)

Humility is having an accurate view of yourself, and being willing to be honest with yourself. It’s living authentically—dropping any mask that protects your image. It’s releasing the demand to be honored, and releasing the power given to you toward the service and wellbeing of others. Through the virtue of humility, we grow and we look like our Savior God, Jesus.

By the way… the beautiful blonde on the raft…she eventually married me. That’s humbling!

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