I have been writing and thinking a lot about making mistakes recently, probably because at 21 it's inevitable to confront what it means to be 'grown-up'--both to yourself, and to others.
There are times it feels that growing up is basically moving on from small silly mistakes that others punish you for, to big bad mistakes you punish yourself for. When you were little you were not scared of making mistakes--because everyone expected you to make mistakes, including yourself--so much as scared of being punished for it. You broke someone's toy when you were playing with it, so you stealthily hide it under the sofa when no one's looking, hoping they'll only find it after you've gone home.
Now that you are a Big Responsible Adult Who Gets Things Done Properly, however, you try so hard not to make any mistakes, not to slip up. You're not afraid of them finding the broken toy under the sofa, so much as you're afraid of having broken it in the first place.
I wrote before on worldly guilt and godly guilt, but I'm still struggling to come to terms with the role each plays in my life--always far too much of the first, far too little of the second. However, today I want to write on another aspect of mistakes, from a Christian's perspective, something I ought to have known long ago, but which somehow only came home to me recently through the process of, yes, making mistakes.
My violin strings snapped suddenly the other day, and I had to make a trip down to a very out-of-the-way-shop to get the replacements I wanted. It was such a long trip that I put it off for a while, until I realized my holidays were almost coming to an end, and I had better get it done. So I traveled all the way there, got lost as I expected I would, finally found the shop (hooray!) and came up to the big glass doors like a desert traveler approaching the oasis.
Only to see the small sign hanging from the locked doors: closed on Mondays.
I felt aghast, and then dumb.
I felt more than dumb, I felt incredibly stupid not to have thought of checking the website on their opening times and days. After traveling all the way here, spending all that time--??
What a mess.
There was a little lady inside the shop, peacefully sorting through some papers behind the locked glass doors. I thought of knocking on the door and asking her if I could come in, and then I thought of how obviously undeserving I was--I had no reason at all that she should accommodate me, the wrong was all on my side. No reason at all.
Full of wretchedness and self-reproach, I was about to slink away in utter disgrace; but she came over--maybe she heard me banging my head on the door. 'We're closed on Mondays, that's true. The cash register isn't working, so you can only pay by cash and I'm afraid I can't give you a receipt--but I can still sell you the strings if you want...'
I left feeling so thankful. So humbled and so happy.
That's grace for you.
It was still a stupid thing for me to have done (or rather, not to have done) but if I had done my research properly, bought what I needed with the typical sense of entitlement we unconsciously don when we walk in, plunk our money down and hold out our hand--I wouldn't have experienced that grateful, joyous humbling of undeserved grace; a reminder of when I first believed.
Mistakes can be opportunities for us to experience grace.
Granted, we're not often shown grace when we make mistakes. When we're careless. When we don't think about the consequences of our actions, how it affects others. We don't deserve to be shown grace, and that's the whole point--that's why grace, when it's extended to us, is so amazing.
Our mistakes humble us, because they show us the full depths of our imperfection and inadequacy, a painful tear-apart sort of humbling.
However grace humbles us in a empowering, wonderfully uplifting way, a humbling that at once impresses us with our unworthiness and the subsequent greatness of the grace shown to us; an experience that leaves us chastened and humbled, yes, but also full of gratitude and joy, and love.
A humbling that gives hope--not in ourselves, but in One who gives grace, greater than our wrongs, greater than our mistakes.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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