My best friend and I love touring houses the way some people love watching football games. It’s an addiction. When we wander through an especially gorgeous house decorated in the style of a bygone era –touchdown! Of the many tours we’ve taken over the years, one foray stands out: the time we inadvertently joined a parade.
In the days before smart phones and GPS systems, my friend and I relied on memory, fuzzy at the best of times. We found ourselves driving up and down the streets of a small town looking for an elusive address. We turned onto a small side street and drove halfway down the block before hearing the music. A marching band headed straight toward us! Behind the band, a local (unadvertised) parade enthusiastically followed. We stopped. They didn’t. Obviously, the drum majorette and her crew felt they had the right of way.
Then we noticed the people lining the sidewalk. They stared, some laughing and pointing. Inside the car, four red cheeks burned in deep embarrassment. Only loyalty to my friend kept me from ducking onto the floorboard and cowering out of sight. Instead, I faced the music–er, parade–with her. I held my head high, albeit, with a protective hand between my face and the car window.
“What do I do?” asked my friend who was, thankfully, doing the driving.
“Hit the gas and play chicken” didn’t seem a suitable reply. The only advice I could muster was, “Put it in reverse and back up until we find a parking space.” So that’s what we did. Some of the crowd applauded as we reversed. Some waved. My mother’s admonishment to always “be polite’ echoed in my ears, and I waved back. Once safely in the parking space, my friend and I turned to each other and burst out laughing. No words, just laughter. I have to admit, after leading a parade in reverse, touring the house was a bit of a letdown.
Now let me say, I’m an introvert. So for me, messing up in front of others is akin to one of those dreams where you show up at school in your underwear, after having studied for the wrong test and you’re at the wrong school. Poise and elegance aren’t in my DNA.
Like most of us, I long to be perfect. But too often, my life consists of flaws, hiccups, and “I can’t believe I said that” moments. I’ve also had my share of moments driving backwards down the parade of life without a parking space in sight.
And that’s okay. In fact, I like to think I inspire others, or at least make them feel better about themselves. Maybe that’s my role as a Christian. People aren’t really interested in conversing with saints. They want to meet sinners, like themselves, that God has redeemed. Isaiah 64:8 says,
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”
If God can take my lumpy clay and mold me into something wonderful, then surely he can do the same for others.
And if I’m going to be even a little bit of an example, maybe it’s to show we shouldn’t let our insecurities have such a stranglehold on us. Take that parade. My friend and I didn’t quite panic, but we certainly were embarrassed. However, we went with it. That’s how life is. Sometimes you watch the parade, and sometimes, those very rare times, you get to lead it. Just don’t be so afraid of making a fool of yourself that you miss the parade entirely.
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