Have you ever been so humiliated you just wanted to crawl under a blanket and not be seen? That was me on June 12, 2008 to be exact. I remember it so well as if it happened yesterday, and this is my humility story.
A Parent’s Humility Story
We’ve been doing everything we could just to get by financially and one activity we chose to hold on to was allowing our daughter, Trinity to stay in her ballet class. Regardless of what it costs, we prioritize it because we knew it was something she loved to do…dance.
Along with dance come recital fees, costumes, class fees, etc. As the dance year was coming to an end we were getting ready for the big recital. The recital of course not only required purchasing the costume, and recital fees, but flowers for the dancer.
I remember when attending picture day we noticed a hole in our daughter’s tights; a small hole, that could easily be stopped with clear nail polish and limited use.
So I instructed Trinity that after picture day, she couldn’t wear the tights again until recital day. That same day, flower orders were due if you wanted to present any to your dancer the day of the recital.
Stretching The Dollar
The flowers were $5 for 1 or $10 for 3. I contemplated buying new tights, but since they were $10, and we only had $10 in our bank account, the decision was evident. Clear nail polish was gonna have to hold up the tights and we can purchase the $5 rose for our daughter.
I must say I felt like the super mommy, thinking this isn’t so bad; I just managed to save her tights and have flowers for her after her performance!
Then dress rehearsal came for the recital. As I sat with all the other mothers in the audience, I hear over the loud microphone, “who is wearing socks…Trinity, Trinity, is your mom here, where is your mom?”
I raised my hand and looked back as she continued to yell in the microphone: “Socks are not allowed, you need to go buy your daughter tights, they are ONLY $10!”
Humiliation Sets In
Sinking into my seat, I look at my girlfriend, Alicia next to me with disgust on my face like really, could you have said it any louder.
When the rehearsal was over, I met Trinity in the bathroom to change her clothes, and she comes running to me crying: “mommy, mommy I’m not supposed to wear socks, you were supposed to buy me tights.”
Of course now, I’m crying and telling her: “we do have your tights remember? There was a small hole, and we were waiting until your recital, so we didn’t have to buy another pair.” We both sat there crying.
It’s one thing for parents to go through financial hardship doing our best to protect our kids. But it’s another thing when we see the hardship affect them in ways we weren’t prepared for.
Pulling Ourselves Together
Trinity and I car-pooled with another dancer and her mom, Alicia, who I became good friends with. So when we came out of the bathroom, she saw us both crying, and I told her this was probably the most humiliating day of my life.
Then Alicia said what any great friend would say and said: “let’s go get some lunch, comfort food!”
When we got home, I wrote in my journal, expressing the humiliation and heartache I had for my daughter. I began to write that although we were doing our best financially, that decision embarrassed my daughter in a way that I never imagined and wish I could have made a different choice.
The closing statement in my journal concerning this matter was this: “I am demanding not just confessing double for our trouble, shame, and embarrassment; the enemy will not bring down our family’s joy!”
The Devil Gets Nothing
Around the middle of August, every time we drove past the dance studio Trinity would ask: “When am I registering for my next class?” And I would just respond: “I’m not sure honey.”
To be honest, deep down, inside my thoughts were: you are never going back to that studio!
But I knew that is not how God would want me to respond. So after feeling this way for a few weeks, I finally decided to pick up the phone and speak with the studio owner.
And what do you know, the studio owner was unavailable but her assistant was kind enough to listen. I explained to her that although my daughter had been attending their studio for five years, the last dance recital really put a bad taste in my mouth concerning the studio.
I explained my daughter’s desire to come back, and that I was hesitant because of what took place. She did inquired about what happened and so I shared what transpired.
Humility Led To An Apology
Of course, she began to apologize. While I appreciated that, I did communicate that I was torn about bringing her back. More importantly my purpose for sharing my experience was to bring it to their attention and ask them to consider finding another way to communicate to parents without embarrassing the children. Because you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.
I went on to say that, although the tights may have only been $10, we were in the process of losing our home and claiming bankruptcy, and it took everything we had for her to attend dance class. To pay the class fees, recital fees, costumes and pictures and to put a parent on blast for not being able to buy another $10 pair of tights was humiliating, considering all the other sacrifices that were being made.
When we finished speaking she apologized again and said she would give this feedback to the owner.
I have to admit when I hung up I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my back. I had been holding that resentment, anger and hurt since June, and it was time to release those feelings and move on.
Later that afternoon, I receive a phone call from the studio owner’s assistant. She told me that she communicated what happened with the studio owner, and not only did she want to extend her deepest apologies, but she wanted to scholarship Trinity with a year of ballet completely FREE!
I was shocked, because in no way was I expecting that. With all the excitement, the first person I called was Alicia, who was with me that day.
I told Alicia, girl you would never believe what just happened. As I explained how I called the studio to express my heart, and the response I got, she was praising God right along with me.
She thanked me for being transparent and sharing all we have been going through as a family. But more importantly for sharing how God is taking care of us along the way. We talked about how excited Trinity would be and joked about how I needed to figure out how to get a new ballet leotard.
The Blessing of Humility Continues
After Trinity came home from school, I shared with her the good news. Then I got another phone call from Alicia. She told me that she just found a ballet leotard that Trinity can have for her new class.
When I told her how much of a blessing that was she asked me to come get it in the morning. I told her I didn’t think I had the time to stop by before she left for work. However, she insisted that I come by, and if she wasn’t there she would leave it at the door. I was thinking to myself: why is she being so insistent, ballet doesn’t start for another month I have plenty of time to get.
Well, the next morning I went to her house, and there was a bag at the front door. Inside the bag was a black leotard for Trinity and an envelope that said Andre and Timberley. When I got in the car, inside the envelope was $200 cash with a card that said: …that you and I may be encouraged by each other’s faith. Thank you for passing on the faith. Love, David and Alicia.
I sat in the car with tears rolling down my face, thinking about what I wrote in my journal on June 12th that I demanded not just confessed that we would receive double for our trouble, shame and embarrassment!
Look at God, He did more than that! To think that being transparent in our own struggle with a friend would strengthen and encourage them in their faith was unfathomable!
In The End
Too many times we hide what we are going through because we don’t want people to know. However, God gives us tests to have a testimony and allows our mess to become a message.
“That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and
comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
~ Romans 1:12(AMPC)
Alicia’s persistence in wanting me to pick up the bag wasn’t just to be a blessing to us, but to share with us how much we were a blessing to them by encouraging them with our faith walk.
The same tears that rolled down my face when I opened the card in August 2008; are the same tears rolling down my face as I write this blog. I will never forget the details of that situation, the good, the bad and the ugly.
More importantly, I will never forget how God showed His power through my weakness, humiliation, and vulnerability.
~ Timberley Gray