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Letting embarrassing moments slide

Letting embarrassing moments slide

Letting embarrassing moments slide

4 October 2021


by Dean Simpson

On a lovely autumn morning in late April 1985, I inherited the dubious honour of being the first, and possibly only, Salvation Army bandsman to be ‘sent off’ during an Anzac Day march.

Thousands had lined the main street of Wollongong, on the NSW South Coast, in anticipation of witnessing the pageantry of the annual parade. I was feeling slightly nervous, this being my first Anzac Day march as a trombone player with the Wollongong Salvos band.

For those unaware of how a trombone works, the instrument comes in two parts: the main body and a slide. Notes are achieved by blowing into the mouthpiece while moving the ‘slide’ up and down to create different pitches. It is best to keep this slide lubricated with a substance akin to Vaseline.

To be best prepared for the march, especially with trombones in the front row, I ensured my slide had plenty of lubrication. Little did I know that some of the lubrication oil was still smeared on my fingers. Our bandmaster, stationed at the rear, suddenly bellowed: “By the left … quick march!” and we were off. The band struck up its opening number, a bright and upbeat piece that demanded a solid ‘Bottom D’ from the trombone part early in proceedings. For the uninitiated, a ‘Bottom D’ on a trombone is the last ‘shift’, requiring a full arm extension.

I hit the ‘Bottom D’ with gusto … in hindsight, too much gusto. The next few seconds were a blur as my slippery fingers parted ways with the slide, causing the slide to part ways with the trombone, and I watched in horror as it began cartwheeling its way down the street on a march all of its own.

Breaking rank, I scurried after the errant slide, which by now had slid into the gutter in front of hundreds of spectators. As I picked it up and frantically began trying to reattach the slightly bent and dented piece, I glanced up at the bandmaster now striding by. Any hopes of rejoining my fellow bandsmen were dashed when he pointed to me and then pointed to the footpath with an expression that effectively said: “Get off!”

Still probably the most embarrassing moment of my life. 

Reacting and responding

Embarrassing moments – we all have them. Some are light-hearted, some are serious – but in every circumstance, our pride takes a beating.

What I’ve noticed about embarrassing moments is that they are just that – embarrassing. But when they are attached to past experiences or those around us react negatively, they can cause a range of emotions from anger to self-pity to fear and everything in between.

It’s easy to get into a cycle of negative thoughts. They can overwhelm us if we let them, and our self-esteem and, indeed, productivity in life can be severely impacted. Essentially, they can let fear get in the way of us living life fully.

From a spiritual perspective, the devil loves it when we ‘stuff up’ because it opens us up to negative emotional responses, leading to low self-esteem and an ongoing downward spiral.

What embarrassing mistake have you made at work? What awkward things have you said or done in front of your peers or even a group of strangers? Are you still stressing over it?

So, what can we do? Here’s a couple of ways we can break the cycle for ourselves and others.

Firstly, remember, we have an ally whom we can trust in emotionally tough situations. God will never judge us in the negative way we judge ourselves. Nor does he place his value on our lives based on one moment or a series of moments. When we feel those negative emotions building, we can always look to God for support.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is from Philippians chapter four, verse 13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” This verse helped me through my embarrassing moment as a young trombone player when all I wanted to do was run and What I’ve noticed about embarrassing moments is that they are just that – embarrassing. hide. It gave me resolve to pick myself up, have a positive outlook and carry on.

Secondly, we can reflect God’s character by responding positively to someone else’s embarrassing moment. One of the most powerful aspects of my experience was the empathetic reaction of my fellow bandsmen, who embodied the Bible verse from Ephesians chapter four, verse 32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

And, yes, even the bandmaster forgave me.

Dean Simpson is part of the Communications team for The Salvation Army Australia.


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