My risk for embarrassment often determines my next steps in addressing things I'd rather avoid in my life. If the shame is greater than the risk, I tuck it safely inside my fragile heart. Back in September I found a small cut near my birthmark. As it would heal, I would find myself reopening the wound. Over time it didn't heal well and eventually I needed to see a doctor. I was embarrassed for not going sooner, I was embarrassed for hiding the injury, and eventually I was embarrassed for letting it go so far and getting worse. It felt unmanagable and I was scared so I called for an appointment at a dermatologist near me. In my mind this wound became amplified and I was scared it would be a bad outcome at the appointment. I was at the end of my resources and after I made the call, I felt some relief. I was ready to face the reality of the situation.
At my appointment, the doctor looked at my wound, diagnosed it right away, and came up with a solution that I can resolve in the office in a few days. I left feeling relief and also carried a bit of embarrassment about taking so long to get help. I began to hear an inner dialogue about how stupid I was to wait so long, how lazy I was to not deal with it sooner, and the accusations kept coming. This line of broken thinking was not unfamliar to me. I've carried it with my weight, my past choices, my parenting, my life choices, and all of them come from regrets and mistakes and the shame I felt for making them. As I walked toward my car and got ready to head home, I heard this little word of encouragement in my head telling me that everyone makes mistakes.
I know this isn't some big, huge enlightening moment, but I really took time to consider this. If everyone makes mistakes, and I am part of everyone, how many times have I not only lacked grace for my mistakes, but where was the grace for the mistakes of others? The level of perfection I held myself to mirrored the level of perfection I expected from others. Could it be that maybe the same fear of embarrassment I feel when I make a simple mistake could motivate others to hide their shame and mistakes, too? Is there a better way to handle mistakes than the barraging thoughts of guilt and shame? Proverbs convinced me there is.
I began a reading plan to read the Bible in a year in the beginning of the year. I log in to the app, I read the devotional, and I check off the passages. I have been discovering how gracious and patient God is with mankind; how many allowances He made with the leaders of Israel, the writer of the Psalms, and the disciples of Christ. I was waiting for the judgment and shame I grew to place on myself, and discovered a Creator who was long suffering and desired to offer hope and help in times of struggle. I saw a God who proved mistakes could make room for grace.
"My son, do not reject or take lightly the discipline of the Lord [learn from your mistakes and the testing that comes from His correction through discipline]; Nor despise His rebuke, For those whom the Lord loves He corrects, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights."
Proverbs 3:11-12 AMP
Read the passage a few times... do you see what we are able to do with mistakes? We can learn from them because He loves us. I am a mom to four kids, and three are teenagers. I often feel like I learn from them as much as I teach them. As they mature, I desire to watch them grow from their mistakes. My 10 year old daughter told me just the other day that mistakes help us learn. Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. Mistakes often come with consequences but mistakes also offer us grace for others. I love my children and desire them to learn from their choices, that's called wisdom. It is not hard for me to wait patiently for them when they make mistakes, because I know character comes through our struggles. If I as an imperfect mom have that kind of grace, imagine the patient grace of my Heavenly Father.
God delights in me when I learn from my mistakes. He watches as I keep picking at things that hurt me and won't heal. He knows exactly what to do to diagnose my situation and offer me help. It's that grace and hope that helps me rise again. His grace is free and he offers it to everyone who, like me, has made mistakes. Consider this week when you're angry at someone's choices if perhaps they made a mistake that God is likely using to display His grace. Take time this week to allow yourself to be corrected for your mistakes because they make room for His grace to abound.