It wasn’t intentional, and it wasn’t done with any evil motivation or wicked design. There wasn’t any master plan to damage this person or our relationship. In fact, I did what I did thinking it was best for all concerned, but it wasn’t.
Ever been there? You’re trying to avoid stepping in a pile of poo only to find yourself knee deep in it. You honestly expected something good, or at least you didn’t believe it was awful, but the result was all messed up nonetheless.
When this happens to me, I usually find myself self-absorbed with regret and disappointment. I can’t sleep. I can eat (way too much comfort food). And I keep replaying what happened over and over in my brain-damaged noggin as if somehow reliving the experience will change something.
Note to self: It doesn’t.
When reality starts to creep in, I realize again that I can’t undo what’s been done, so I tend to go from regret to despair.
“What’s wrong with me? Why did I do that? When am I going to learn?”
I keep hoping that someday I’ll get beyond failure and be mistake-free. Uhhhh, guess what? I am growing, but the likelihood of me becoming perfect any day soon is an unreasonable expectation.
I have failed.
I do fail.
I will fail.
So what should I (we) do in the face of our brokenness and humanity? Here are some things to consider:
- Get real. There was only one person who ever walked on planet earth without sin, and it’s not you or me. Of course, this doesn’t ignore or excuse our stupidity and sin, but we’ve got to stop beating ourselves up for being human. I find great comfort in these words found in Psalm 103:14 (NLT), “God knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” God gets us. He knows better than we do the weakness of our flesh. I’m pretty sure He expects more failure from us than we do.
- Get forgiven. The best and only real antidote to failure is forgiveness. We must ask God to forgive us. We must ask the offended to forgive us. And in the end, we must forgive ourselves. To walk in unforgiveness is foolish, and it denies the power of the cross and what Jesus did for us. Forgiveness frees us from the ugly cycle of regret, self-anger, and despair. Live by these words of David, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1, NIV).
- Get better. I truly wish I could learn every lesson without ever making any mistakes, but I seem destined to learn most lessons the hard way. What matters most, however, is learning and growing. Again, we all fail, but we don’t all take to heart the lessons we can learn through failure. Someone once coined the phrase, “When you fail, fail forward.” In other words, keep going and growing even when you blow it. Stuck sucks! So rather than getting stuck in a pity party, let your failures teach and mold you into a better man or woman of God.
I love this verse written by another man prone to failure, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV).
Love covers. Period. End of story.
It covers our idiocy. It covers our mistakes. It covers our sins. Mine and yours.
So above all, I’ve decided to live loved when I fail and love others deeply when they fail me.
How about you?