It is Sunday and I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I foolishly downed a grande Starbucks iced latte this morning so I’ll be awake and vibrating until Tuesday so MIGHT AS WELL EXPEL SOME FINGER ENERGY, AM I RIGHT? (The piano is getting slaughtered as soon as I’m done with this.)
Failure and grace are on my heart today, because:
- I just got done writing an apology letter to a mother in our congregation for our streaming platform being down this morning during her son’s baptism.
- Dan had to apologize for not being the husband/father I needed him to be on Friday.
- And a few days prior to that, I had to send an awkwardly phrased apology email to a mentor whose blessings on me I have not exactly honored.
There have been a lot of “I’m sorry”s floating around my head this week, thrown both at and from me. A lot of disappointments. A lot of failures.
It’s easy for me to forgive Dan because he’s so silly and wonderful. But my mentor forgave me (for probably the millionth time) and I’m crossing my fingers that this mother will also forgive me. However, even though the reality of their forgiveness is within my reach, I still find it hard to forgive myself.
Last night I went to dinner with some ladies from our church. My friend Kimberly told us a story of her son’s experience at a local water park. There is an area that has big, floating lily pads with a rope suspended above them. The idea is that you can jump from lily pad to lily pad and use the rope to help you across.
Kimberly’s son decided to make his way across by only hanging on to the rope and not touching down on any of the lily pads. When he got to the other side, his hands were blistered and bleeding.
“Why didn’t you stop when you were hurting?” she asked.
“Because I didn’t want to fail,” he said.
Whenever someone forgives me for wronging them, it’s like I look down on their grace like her son did those lily pads. I dismiss it and choose instead to cling to my shame as punishment — a thick, tough, splintery rope — and mentally beat myself up. In a sense, I make myself bleed because I’m so upset that I failed in the first place.
Is it failure, though? Is it?
To admit you need help? To admit you made a mistake? To step down on a lily pad? To apologize to someone and say, “I missed the mark and I’ll try to do better next time,” and to let their grace be enough?
Perhaps when we find ourselves in pain we should stop, step down on a lily pad, and apologize instead of making ourselves bleed unnecessarily.
And then, we move on, more aware of the reality of love and grace and mercy and redemption than we are of the lies of shame and guilt.