Recently, a reader left an anonymous comment that pointed out a poor word choice in one of my posts. Some loyal readers immediately came to my defense, which I really appreciated. However in this case, I believe I was in the wrong, and the reader was doing what he or she ought to do as a Christian and reminding me to be more mindful of my words (and to be a better example to my daughters). While it was not my intention to offend anyone but to simply poke fun at myself, I could see how my humor could come off as flippant and could be viewed as insensitive.
This isn’t the first blunder I’ve made as a Christian, as a human, as a writer/blogger. And I’m afraid it won’t be the last. Failure is an inevitable part of the human condition. Every day I make missteps. I say the wrong thing. I write the wrong thing. I do the wrong thing. Sometimes it’s what I don’t say or do that keeps me from being a better person. Maybe I was in so much of a hurry that I avoided the elderly woman in the store who glanced in my direction and could have really used a warm smile or a brief, friendly chat. Perhaps I was annoyed with my husband for some minor offense and was distant to him instead of giving him the homecoming he deserved after a long day at work. Maybe I was too lazy or too busy to call a friend who was in need of a pep talk.
There are so many missed opportunities – moments that could have turned out differently, better – if I had only made a different choice. I’m not talking about life or death choices. Or even choices between vice and virtue, good and evil. Often as a mom, it’s the simple choice between stopping to listen to a little voice asking me to read a story and finishing what I think is an important task. I frequently, thank goodness, make the right choice, but there are too many times when I shoo my child away and then later – perhaps at the end of the day when I’m examining my conscience, considering my ups and downs – I suffer the pangs of regret for the story I didn’t read, the questions I didn’t answer, the voices I didn’t hear.
Thankfully, in the blogging world we can edit our mistakes. We can refine choppy paragraphs and give meaning to prose that lacked substance. We can erase poorly chosen words and clarify confusing phrases. With a few keystrokes, we can make our wrongs right.
Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same in real life? If we had as many do-overs as needed like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day?
Sometimes I wish I could watch my life unfold like a movie and then press rewind and try to fix all those cringe-worthy moments and the scenes in my life when I didn’t even realize I had been insensitive or was oblivious to someone in need.
Since I can’t replay the footage of my life, God sometimes gives me others – like an anonymous visitor to my blog – to point out when I’ve lost my footing or to help me get back on my feet when I stumble. Often it’s my husband who honestly but kindly tells me when I’ve goofed. He tells me I’m often too hard myself and he’s my biggest fan and is quick to forgive, but he won’t give me a free pass when I ask for his truthful take on how I handled a certain situation. I need someone like this in my life. Sometimes I need a comment from a stranger after I make a blogging faux pas, too.
I won’t lie. It’s not easy to have my shortcomings or blunders pointed out. My pride is easily bruised, my ego too fragile at times. And my intentions are, for the most part, good. But it’s usually when I’m face to face with my brokenness that I open my heart to God the most and am filled with His grace, love, peace, and the redemptive power of the resurrection.
Although God doesn’t give us do-overs, He does give us second, third, fourth, however many chances it takes to find the path He invites us to walk. There’s no transgression, sin, or stupid blog post that can’t be forgiven. God never gives up on us even when it feels like the rest of the world has.
“Say you’re sorry, and don’t dwell on it,” my husband advised me after my recent blogging blunder.
I like to think God would say something similar when I’ve slipped up. “Forgive yourself because I already have. Don’t look back. Tomorrow is another day to unite your works, words, and life with me. And if you stumble again (and again), you can count on my mercy.”