Earlier today I attended a Memorial Day service at a local cemetery. This year's service was especially moving, as the group the Avenue of the Flags was dedicated to was none other than our local branch of the Honor Flights program. (I interviewed Vince's sister a year and a half ago regarding her experiences working with this program - you can read more about that HERE.) The determination and dedication given to make sure our veterans get to see the war memorials in Washington D.C. is so admirable and beautiful. My own grandpa, who served in the Korean War, even got the chance to go last year.
I'll pass around some pictures of today's service while I prepare to tell you a story:
The story I want to share tonight isn't actually from today's service, though. It's actually from last year's Memorial Day service. My grandpa was the main speaker, and I was supposed to sing the song "This is My Son" along to the music from the CD "Don't Believe" by the bluegrass band Cherryholmes.
Everything started off great. I sat next to my grandpa on the platform, and I listened to him do a great job giving the speech he had been practicing over and over. At the end of his speech my sister was supposed to read a poem by one of my grandpa's friends who had recently passed away, but I ended up reading it instead. His testimony seemed to really bless the people in the audience, and they gave him a standing ovation. It was a powerful moment.
And then the man overseeing the ceremony turned to the man who was going to play the bagpipes and asked him to begin. But wait... What about my song?? I tried to make eye contact with the man in charge, but it didn't work. I had been forgotten, and the ceremony concluded without me singing a note.
As everyone mingled after the ceremony, I was eager to leave. Yes, I was proud of my grandpa, and nothing was going to change that. But I was also hurt and embarrassed, and I didn't want anyone to see my shame. My name and the name of the song I was going to sing had been written in the program, but still I had been overlooked. (As a side note, the man in charge apologized and was very kind about the whole thing!)
The whole way home I sulked in the car, huddled into myself and my own hurt. But when we got to the house, I spent some time outside thinking and talking with God - and God showed me that the way things turned out had more important things to teach me about humility than if things had turned out the way I had planned.
You see, my poor attitude was because I was embarrassed. I had been overlooked and forgotten, in my opinion. I felt short-changed. But that Memorial Day service wasn't about me. Sure, I think the words of that beautiful song by Cherryholmes could have blessed the audience. But they had already been blessed by my grandpa's story and his service to our country. And I shouldn't have let my embarrassment keep me from wholeheartedly sharing in the honoring of my grandpa and others who had served in the U.S. military.
In a twist of wonderful irony, the last line of the poem by my grandpa's friend that I read went like this:
"This once proud ship will sail no more."
When that realization hit me - how those words tied into what I needed to learn from the experience - I laughed. My "proud ship" really needed to stop sailing!
Oh, laughter really can be such good medicine! =) How can you stay angry and hurt when you can honestly laugh at your own folly and rejoice in the goodness of God?
As the author of Ecclesiastes noted, there is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh" (3:4a).
So now I'll open up the sharing time! Is there anyone else who has had to learn some lessons about humility the hard way? (Really, is there any other way than the hard way??)
"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."
~ Proverbs 15:32-33 ~