How to handle humiliation

Photo of Robin Harris Kimbrough

Dr. Robin Harris Kimbrough

One of the worst feelings we have as a human being is shame and embarrassment. No one likes to be embarrassed. When we experience humiliation, there are many directions our emotions can take us. We could retaliate with violence or try to humiliate the person who caused us humiliation. We could hide out until we feel like we can face our embarrassment. We could choose not to be humiliated. The devil is artful at using the spirit of humiliation to cause each of us to self-destruct. The devil uses this as a weapon to keep us isolated, to become violent, and to act out of our character. As we reflect on incidents in which we were humiliated by other people (including the actions of our children), we probably recall how bad we felt about ourselves. This is why it is so important that we rely on God’s grace to help us to deal with humiliating circumstances. The good news about this feeling of shame and embarrassment is that sometimes we are imagining it.

We become so consumed about what people are thinking about our circumstances and what happened to us. But in actuality, no one is thinking about us. That’s the truth. We all remember the familiar character, Jabez. Jabez’s siblings had good names, and his mother named him Jabez, meaning ‘born in pain or sorrow.’ Imagine going around with the name Jabez during those times.

The Bible does not reveal it, but he probably had a hard time, especially since he was the most honorable of his siblings. Jabez teaches us how to deal with shame and humiliation: pray against it. Jabez prayed to God, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” I Chronicles 4:10. Jabez could have chosen to permit his name and the humiliation associated with him to define who he was, but instead he defied it with prayer. He did not hide from it or change it, but he prayed about it. We will have some humiliating things to happen to us, but we do not have to act in alignment with it.

Sometimes God will permit things to happen to each of us in public, and it may be embarrassing and hurtful. If we pray as Jabez did (to bless us, enlarge our territory, and ask him to be with us, and not to bring harm on anyone), people will see us turning an embarrassing situation into something that brings us something good and to God the glory.

Regardless of the source of our embarrassment, we can rise above these circumstances and people and see the work of God on the inside of us.

We have all had situations in which we felt like sticking our head in the sand with deflated egos. When we struggle with these circumstances, let us not forget how the people humiliated Jesus with insults, violence, and disrespect.

Then when they thought they had gotten the best of them, Jesus rose from the dead and caused them to be ashamed of their behavior. If we are willing to rise above embarrassment, humiliation and people—we too, can put people’s words and actions to shame.