Spending some time at the laundromat this afternoon. It is such a strange place to be sometimes. I crammed mine and Maddy’s laundry into two washing machines while a man stood behind me and watched the whole process. He was literally staring. It is not a particularly comfortable feeling to move your underwear around in front of complete strangers, anyway. It’s bad enough when everyone in the place understands the socially acceptable behavior of averting eyes when people are trying to get their dirty clothes to fit into two washers. It becomes much more awkward when a strange man obviously lacks laundromat etiquette and positions himself behind you so he can observe the process. I don’t actually think it was totally intentional. I do think it was totally ignorant.
But you will be happy to know I survived. As I get older I notice it is more difficult to embarrass me. There were things in the past which would terrify me and now I wonder how I could be so silly. Calling a wrong number was one of them. I would check and double-check and triple check to be sure of the number I wanted to dial and for some reason the more concerned I became about dialing wrong, the more likely I was to dial wrong. And I was terrible at apologizing and hanging up! It was mortifying. Now I think about that and it seems silly and trite.
Another phone paranoia I had was about calling people and not remembering who I was calling. This would happen frequently when I was going down a list of Awana volunteers or softball parents. Good grief. I would become so embarrassed and tongue-tied I would awkwardly make small talk and hang up, only to realize I didn’t accomplish the purpose of the call. I eventually developed a system where I would recite the person’s name over and over until he/she answered the phone to save myself the trauma.
I also used to practically have panic attacks whenever I had to do anything dealing with a car and mechanics. Oil changes, new tires, tune-ups, it didn’t matter what it was I absolutely did not want to talk to a mechanic about my car. I knew somehow or another my ignorance of engines and things mechanical would show and I would leave the shop feeling humiliated.
One time when I lived in California I was getting a smog check on my car. You can’t get your registration if you don’t comply with that law. So I took my car, which was fairly new, to a smog check shop (I guess that’s what they are called). The way it worked was, I had to drive my car into the garage and remain inside while the mechanic hooked it up to a smog-testing machine and checked it out. I sat there holding my breath and hoping to get away as quickly as possible. Well naturally, my car failed the test. That particular shop was the kind where you didn’t pay for the test unless you passed it.
I knew something was wrong when the mechanic was looking at the machine my car was hooked up to and began shaking his head. He walked to my window and told me the car had failed. How embarrassing! He said I needed a new something or other and it would cost $140 to fix. The smog test was $20. I was just as cheap then as I am now, so I told him no thank you and asked to be unhooked. All I wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible, I was so embarrassed. Then he started arguing with me, insisting I needed the part. The line behind me was growing and I got a bit angry and told him to unhook my car again. This next part left me somewhat incredulous. He said, “Okay,” and walked over to the machine. Suddenly he turned around and said, “Wow! Your car just passed!” I felt stupider than before and paid for my certificate and left.
I never took a car in for a smog test again.
And what about times when I would be fiddling with the radio or doing something for one of the kids and take my eyes off the traffic light just long enough for it to change and the two seconds before I noticed, the driver behind me would blare his/her horn? I would shoot out into that intersection so fast, my face burning, eyes straight ahead; trying to prove it wasn’t me who caused such a disruption to the peace and flow at the traffic light.
Now I think about all those things and I wonder why I ever wasted one second allowing myself to feel embarrassed or bad or humiliated or traumatized or anything other than human? How silly. I have been through some really difficult times these past few years and I have faced some tough stuff - much of which was pretty humiliating to go through.
I hate crying, for instance. I rarely allow myself the luxury even in private and certainly NEVER in public. But over the past few years, I cannot count the number of times the tears fell and I had absolutely no control over them no matter where I was or whom I was with. Sometimes I wanted to find my own special rock so I could crawl underneath and hide away forever. But I didn’t.
I usually managed to muster up the strength to stand up tall, keep my chin high and walk with the dignity and beauty of the princess I really am - because, you see, all those trials and tests impressed upon me deeply the fact my Father is a King - and nothing that happens here on Earth could ever separate me from Him.
I just can’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I am going to make mistakes. I will have to get my car fixed. I will sometimes not go through the green light right when it changes. I will NOT let any of that bother me. There are too many important matters to focus on when your Father is a King.
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