1 Peter 5:5-7 . . . All of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
When did you last have to eat humble pie?
For me, that’s a common experience. I can think of three humbling moments just yesterday. But I’m thinking right now of a time back in June. I was sitting at the awards banquet at a writer’s conference wishing desperately I had not submitted the first chapter of the novel I’m writing to the “novel beginnings” category. By then it had been thoroughly critiqued at the conference itself, so I was aware of the changes I needed to make. Please, let it be so bad that the judges don’t even mention it! This was the best I could hope for as I listened to award-winning poetry, devotions, and other great writing.
I was only half paying attention when I heard my name mentioned in the humor category. Really? Did I submit something under humor? I don’t even remember what it was!
Honorable mention. Ugh. Honorable mention in my mind was much worse than nothing, because with no recognition, people wouldn’t even know I had submitted anything. As I walked forward to receive my certificate, I imagined the assembled writers, editors, agents, and publishers thinking, “Hey, nice try, but see—you really don’t belong here.” The first and second place awards I had received in other years no longer mattered. How humiliating, I thought, as I tried to smile for the camera.
Even more desperately, I hoped “novel beginnings” would pass me by. But no. Again, honorable mention. Once more, the walk to the front, embarrassment coloring my face, the forced smile for the camera. I wanted to walk straight out the door, never look back, never come back to this place where I had been “shamed,” never try to write again.
On my long ride home, God talked to me about my pride, and about the nature of shame. He challenged me to grow up. Where I had felt humiliation, he asked me for humility. Words I had only half heard came back clearly to my mind. “Honorable mention means there is a good idea here that’s worth investing in. It just needs a little more work.” Work. I’m good at that. Perhaps this is not, actually, the end of the world.
God pressed me further. He brought to my mind a memory of an eight-year-old girl huddled in a dark stairwell at boarding school believing her world had ended because she got a B on her report card. She simply could not handle facing her parents. She felt she had blown the only thing that gave her value in their eyes. She was flooded with shame.
“You’re not that vulnerable little girl anymore,” my heavenly Father told me. “I love you, and I want you to receive this evening, and this whole conference, as a gift. I’ve given you things I want you to say, and these people are showing you how to do that better. You don’t need to be perfect. You only need to be faithful. Give me all your worries and cares. I care about you.”
Today I am revising my honorable mention humor piece. Tomorrow, I’m getting back to the novel. I have some cool ideas and can’t wait to get them on paper!