Have you ever been embarrassed to be around or with someone? I have, and in one case the feeling was profound.
About a dozen years ago, I attended a conference held by a professional society I belonged to. My wife and I saw an opportunity to experience a new place together, so she joined me on the trip and we spent the evenings together. (One of my coworkers who was attending also had his wife with him, so the two women got to hang out while the conference sessions were going on.) As is typical for such events, we went to dinner with other conference goers.
On one of those nights, we were in a group of about 15 people. When it was our turn to be seated in the restaurant we had chosen, the staff had pulled multiple tables together. My wife and I ended up sitting halfway down the length of the assembled table. Things proceeded pleasantly through ordering and receiving our food. With so many people, several conversations were being held. At the end of the table to our right sat a fellow who was well known in the society and tended to crack jokes. He must have said something that the woman at the other end of the table didn’t like because suddenly, as we were eating, she called him out with a harsh expletive. Not once, but twice. She was smiling as she did so, as if she thought she were the one being funny.
The restaurant wasn’t large, and everyone heard her. The entire place fell silent. I continued to eat, my head bowed over my plate, my face hot. I was embarrassed for my wife, who felt at least as horrified as I did by that assault on our ears. I was embarrassed that she saw that I associated with people whose professionalism went only so far. I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the courage to speak up and tell her that she was out of line and she ought to apologize. No one did.
Was I ever ashamed to be in that place at that time with that person.
The situation perhaps most often thought of where one feels embarrassed to be with someone else is a teenager with her parent. I’m not quite there yet with my family—our preteen still offers to go places with me or sometimes accepts when I ask if she wants to come. But I’m sure the day isn’t far off when that will change and I’ll become like a gelatinous cube oozing along near her person, and she’ll feel compelled to walk several feet away from me when we’re together. Any parent in this situation would likely agree that the aversion on the part of the teen is wholly unjustified.
How much worse is it, however, to be as one of those who, in a vision of the prophet Lehi, partook of the fruit of the tree of life and then “cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed” (1 Nephi 8:25). Opposite the tree on the far side of a river that represented the judgments of God rose an expansive building inhabited by people “both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (v. 27). Those who heeded this mocking wandered away from the tree, giving up the joy of partaking.
Our Savior warned, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33).
I wrote the Parable of the Laboratory Assistant with this statement in mind. Christopher felt proud to work with Dr. Baxendale until her theories and research began to be unpopular; then Christopher’s support waned. He undermined and humiliated her in public, at which point she gave him a choice.
Disciples of Christ face this same choice: we can turn away from Him when following Him is unpopular—and it certainly is in our time—or we can keep our feet on the path and face whatever comes with the power that comes from faith in Him. As we are in the latter days before Christ’s coming, being his disciple will become more difficult over time. But will we undermine Him and His work, or will we seek to promote them?
I don’t think we need to discuss what happens if Jesus denies us before the Father because we have denied Him. I prefer to think about the prophetic promise to those who refuse to be embarrassed when following the Master: “But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever” (2 Nephi 9:18, emphasis added).
I think my feelings that night in the restaurant were largely justified. But if I ever harbor them toward my Redeemer—thinking that He humiliated me and He needs to apologize to me for some affront—then I will be far off track. On the contrary, if embarrassment is warranted, I will be the cause of His. The remedy is to repent and to walk such that He will not “be ashamed to own [me] before the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:27).
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay
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