Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I have made so many mistakes I cringe when I let myself dwell on it. Sometimes I get embarrassed just to be in the room with myself. Mistakes from ignorance, accidental mistakes, selfishness-driven mistakes, mistakes I thought wouldn't count if they remained secret, mistakes I intended to fix later so I thought those wouldn't count either. Mistakes from being young, immature, unwise, depressed, unknowing and impulsive. I am a mistake aficionado.
You'd think after all this magnificent mistake-making I'd at least have learned how to learn from my mistakes. Or at least to make them gracefully. No. Not me. I hate making mistakes. Although I do realize on some intellectual level that it is the human condition to make mistakes, I still hate it. I still hope nobody notices or that I can back track and fix it. I still blush and get defensive and dwell on it for long after it is over. I also realize that it is really my own ego that makes mistakes so awful for me, hence the embarrassment. It's this pride in my heart that makes me want to present some kind of perfection, even if it is fake.
I have learned to go back where I've messed up and fess up. I have learned to tell someone that on second (or third or tenth) thought, I took the wrong path. I've learned to apologize and I've learned enough about how I tick to be able to usually figure out where the mistake originated. And sometimes, to use that experience to make a smaller mistake next time.
I have also been dealt with both severely and beautifully when I've blundered. I've experienced the punitive approach where just when I feel like I can show my face again, someone reminds me that I am still on some kind of existential probation. And I've had people pat me on the hand and look at me with a truly loving face and tell me that it's ok, I can hold my head up and move on. I've had people share their own humiliations and failures to shine a light on my dark road, such generosity makes my own recovery less painful. I feel that we are walking together that way.
I've had people look the other way and let me right myself, pretending they didn't see. Such generosity saves me from humiliation.
Mistakes become divine though when we allow our own to become someone else's light. Instead of righting my wounded ego by pushing someone else a few notches below me, I've learned to reach out my hand and say, "Hey, this way. This is how you find your way out of this. Follow me. We're together in this." I've learned that the joy of this far outweighs the finicky balance my pride demands.
Finally I have experienced Jesus in mistakes. Yes, in the obvious grace and mercy he covers me with. But more than that, Jesus with skin on. When I snap at my husband and then five minutes later I want to be held, he holds me. When I spend too much money and he juggles the budget to work it out without making me feel wasteful. When I don't deserve generosity because of all of my mistakes and he still pours out extravagant love over me; this is Jesus.
And so I wonder, if Jesus really sees all of these things as mistakes? Or doors cracked open by blundering hands?
Job 33:26-27 He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. Then he comes to men and says, 'I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.'