There I was, frantically waving my arms, in my yoga clothes/pajamas, wearing my crazy bed head hair while chasing the trash truck down my street, dragging our giant green garbage can behind me. It was a glorious sight for the neighborhood, I’m sure.
“That was a little EMBARRASSING, Mom,” my daughter later informed me.
It’s always helpful to your self-esteem to have your seven year old school you on embarrassment, don't you agree?
It’s really a shame no one videoed the Trash Chase event. All of us who were there will never forget it. The combination of pity and horror on the faces of the men who took my garbage away that day was special. Their eyes seemed to plead with me, “You’re not safe here, ma’am. Get on home quickly.”
Got it, boys. Thanks.
These are the kinds of humiliations we adults must accept as a part of life, though. The trash can was too full already because we missed trash day last week when we were still on vacation. We got out of our routine and forgot to put the can out on Wednesday night. There was no way we would have made it another week without massive overflow. So, I chased that truck like my life depended on it. I would do it again. I’m not scared!
After the exchange of old refuse for the opportunity to gather more, newer rubbish, I walked home with an empty trash can. I found my heart was full, though. I was RIDICULOUSLY GRATEFUL I AM NOT FAMOUS. Can you imagine the fantastic magazine spread that would occur if a Kardashian chased a trash truck?? (See: Celebrities Are Just Like You! They take out the trash in their yoga pants!) I mean, I realize Kim and Kanye and the rest of the gang have “people” for that kind of stuff, but still. The internet would break if Kim did what I did. We commoners are a lucky bunch of normal folk, to get to live our lives hidden away like this.
Real life humiliations remind us of our humble state. Go ahead, trip in front of a crowd on the stairs at the mall. Endure a nuclear toddler meltdown in the middle of Chick Fil A. Get in a fight with your spouse in front of your in-laws. Watch in horror as your preteen awkwardly spills a milkshake all over the person at the next table. Lose your contact and squint while crawling around on the floor at the doctor’s office. Accidentally wear two different shoes to the movies. It’s all good, you guys.
After your unfortunate display of embarrassment, take a deep breath. Embrace the agony of your moment while you thank God he didn’t make you famous. Famous people aren’t allowed to be normal and stupid in the midst of their ordinary days. We may never get a swag bag filled with blue boxes form Tiffany, but the rest of us are totally free to have our pants accidentally fall down in the grocery store and never have the whole world know any of the details. Life is a mixed bag of blessings and blunders, I guess.
It's important to remember that Fame is not the same as Belonging. Fame can’t make you feel connected and accepted. Despite our many humiliations galore in life, we are still worthy of love. Rich and famous, poor and unknown, we all have the same shot at finding a place to belong. We can all make the choice to humble ourselves, lift others, and set our eyes on a Kingdom with only one kind of true fame: sacrificial love.
When my daughter told me the Trash Chase was embarrassing, I laughed.
“Baby, I was just taking out the trash. It’s all going to be okay.”
Everything totally is going to be okay, because I belong here, in this family, to the man who chose me as his wife and the four children we are raising. I have been gathered up by a God of Love, placed in a wonderful church here in this city we call Austin. I have been made for this time we call Right Now.
In a small way, I am famous here in this brick house we live in. My daughter can’t wait to see what I’m going to wear every day. My sons constantly try to take unsolicited photos of me with the iPad. I am adored for my kindness and (sometimes) mocked for my eccentricities. I really am almost famous.
Best of all, I know I am loved by God, who has made me worthy of all this belonging. I will take the good and the bad, because everything that is and was and ever will be has passed through His hands- even the humiliations.
Even so, I hope I remember to take the trash out tonight. I don’t think those trash guys can handle another Trash Chase episode tomorrow. They've been through so much already....