I messed up.
Have you ever messed up? Set a goal and stepped off course?
This is not the first time. This might be the first time I learned to respond differently.
Because there are a couple of reactions we tend to have when we mess up. On any number of fronts. When we say we’re going to work fewer hours but we end up working more. When we say we’re going to only eat healthy foods but we end up eating dessert. When we say we won’t raise our voices to our kids but we yell when one levels a punch at the other. When we say we’re going to step away from cocktail hour but instead we indulge. When we say we’ll take on less commitments but we say yes to another one. When we say we’re going to wake up early to run but that snooze button was too tempting. When we say we’re going to study all night but we slip away to the better alternatives on the computer.
I have previously spent days or weeks beating myself up for the mistake. For the failure. If you have any perfectionist in you, then backsliding on a goal can often feel unforgivable. Beating yourself up does not get you back on track. It distracts you from the good goal you have set out.
In the alternative, I have allowed the mistake to set a new course. Well, I messed up once, what’s one more mistake? And then the journey becomes about the indulgence and lack of responsibility and you just move farther and farther off course.
Well, I messed up this past weekend. And the next day, I was feeling pretty bad about it. Until I reminded myself what God offers me and I talked to some wise friends.
God offers mercy. Mercy is defined as compassionate treatment, especially of those under one’s power; clemency; or a disposition to be kind and forgiving. I’ve talked a fair amount about grace, which most simply refers to the unmerited assistance of God’s love. But when you mess up, I have found that knowing about His mercy can help me walk past the sense of shame or guilt.
This resonated so much with me as we sang an old hymn at my church yesterday by Calvin Hampton. I normally go in for more contemporary music. But this, well this knocked me off my feet. I know I dance around the core message of my faith sometimes because I have every shape, size and background of reader here. I love that so much. I love that we can talk fashion and leadership and multiples and careers. But this is the message that keeps me going every morning, and it lets me stand up even when I fall down. This keeps me both from beating myself up and also reminds me to step back on track – There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy:
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice, which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings have such kindly judgment given.
There is welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior; there is healing in His blood….
For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind….
It is God: His love looks mighty, but is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness goes far out beyond our dreams.
But we make His love too narrow by false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness with a zeal He will not own.
We make His love too narrow. His love is boundless. He forgives. Let’s accept that kindness, treat ourselves with that forgiveness, shake off whatever goal we stepped away from this weekend, and step back on track. The goal is still ahead, sister, press on.