“If we let it, humiliation can lead to humility.” — Jon Weece
A few days ago, a few of my friends had a “Like” war on Facebook. And it was beautiful. It started with Scott, the director of worship arts at my church, looking at some old photos on Facebook. From there, we began Liking old photos of staff members. Other friends began questioning our antics– and they were brought into the melee, as Scott and I and others began liking their photos from high school or pictures of them with triple chins. It grew and grew and grew until one friend won the war by liking over 70 of my photos in one night. We admitted defeat, but the next day I tried something else: Embarrassing Photo Day. My friends and I changed our profile pics to one of the old embarrassing photos that were unearthed in the Like war. It was also Ash Wednesday, so despite my best efforts, not many others joined in our experiment. I hope to try it again in the next few months, but until then, I will bear my embarrassment here at EvanWeppler.com.
I know some people are much more private and do not like bad photos of themselves, and I think that’s fine. We should show kindness to others and not infringe upon their personal boundaries. But every once in a while it’s okay to embarrass yourself and your closest friends, because isn’t that what friends are for?
We tend to project our best selves (or post our best masks) Facebook and Instagram and other social media. We like it when people think that we are beautiful and popular and that we have it all together. But dang, I know I don’t– and I’m guessing you don’t either. This is a favorite comic I came across last year.
Do you ever feel like that?
Well you’re not alone.
I love this quote from CS Lewis…
You are not alone. We all feel embarrassed at times. We all act like idiots at times. We all are smum (a word I invented years ago… smart and dumb… though I hope it doesn’t have some gross Urban Dictionary definition… hold on, let me check… well, there are a few other definitions, but none of them are that bad…).
So here is a gift of goodwill, an extension of friendship, an admittance of defeat. Here are some of my most embarrassing photos.
If you have more embarrassing photos of me somewhere, let me know, because I will probably make a part two. Because I am just plain goofy sometimes, ugly sometimes, gross sometimes, and human all of the time. Humiliation can lead to humility– and remind us of our humanity. And despite our mess, or because of it, Christ left his heavenly home and dwelt among us. I imagine he would have had embarrassing photos (if they had cameras back then). He went through puberty. He probably had acne or awkward growth spurts. Imagine what he would have looked like as he came back from being in the desert for 40 days. Jesus was fully human and fully God and came so we could draw near, free of sin, shame, and fear.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)
I am tempted to despair at times as I think of how weak and pitiful I am. But I am reminded that Christ’s great love for me does not diminish or falter when I am at my lowest.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Though I’m pretty sure this wasn’t Paul’s intention, I can’t help but read this verse and imagine it as a call and response liturgical reading.
Leader: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
All: Of whom I am the worst.
But thanks to the Incarnation, thanks to the Word become flesh, thanks to the work of Jesus on the cross, our sinful identity is washed away and renewed. All our ugliness and embarrassment and humiliation and shame is transformed into something new and wonderful. We find beauty in the common, as my pastor and friend Ian would say.
So if you would like to untag yourself in embarrassing photos on Facebook, go ahead. If you want to avoid the camera, that’s alright. But know that you are loved. Know that you are more than how you feel when you are at your lowest. And know that you are not the only one out there who doesn’t have it all together. I’m with you there, my friend.