I royally screwed up.
I completely forgot a commitment I made and “no showed” something important. What’s worse, the guy I let down is one of our most fired-up champions for Radical Mentoring, sprinkling words of affirmation all over Twitterworld and the blogosphere.
Another young friend of mine made a major screw-up and now his marriage is in the crapper. Just like me, he’s sorry. He feels awful. He has a plan to never do it again. He’s begging for forgiveness. He’s wearing God out on his knees, begging Him to protect him from the consequences of his stupid behavior.
Even though failure is a great teacher…we can “fail forward” and all that jazz, failure stinks. It hurts. Both the people we let down and ourselves. And it doesn’t matter how hard we tried or what a “one time thing” our failure was, it’s still there. The fact of it is undeniable. It’s like the scar on my finger….the pain finally went away but the scar is there, reminding me it happened. We can seek God’s forgiveness and we’ve got it. We can seek forgiveness from the person we let down and get it. But the fact remains….we did this thing. It’s there and it’s ugly.
As Christ-followers, we’re confused. “This isn’t supposed to happen”, “I know better”. “I should have put sticky notes all over the place to remind me to call in.” But at the end of it, we still screwed up. We’re embarrassed. Others are hurt. Our reputation has an asterisk by it. The thing we did still sits there. It can’t be undone. The toothpaste can’t be put back in the tube.
We need grace. We’ve been forgiven…..that’s not the issue. It’s grace we need.
Forgiveness is the quid pro quo. I ask for it, you give it. We’re square.
But grace is this amazing thing that comes when the scales are put away…when we move beyond “what’s fair” and volunteer to make it not matter. It’s not a trade. It’s the gift of ‘taking it off the table’, of letting it go. It’s restoration without a price; without penance.
When I reached the friend I stood up, he gave me grace. He had such empathy. He encouraged me like crazy. He made me feel like Peter when he saw Jesus the first time after denying Him. Loved. Accepted. Even encouraged. And all this right after a major failure.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sore. “How could I have been so careless?” “Why did I not take steps to offset my forgetfulness?” “What’s that ‘reminders’ icon on my iphone for anyway?” All those questions still float through my head. And I’ll bet Peter relived his little denial episode a million times. But when you’re extended grace, the hurt is less. You’re able to put it in perspective, learn from it, and move on with your mission.
Who do you know who needs grace? Is there someone on the downside of a screw-up who’s beating himself to a bloody pulp right now? Whether they wronged you or someone else, is there a way to go give them grace?
Oh, and one more thing….the “win” for the grace-giver.
God has this wonderful habit of blessing people when they do what He does. When my friend extended me grace, he felt good about himself. Instead of ruminating about what a dud I was, how embarrassed he was…any of that, giving me grace gave him freedom. You can’t give grace and hold a grudge. He’s free because he set me free.
I’m praying my friend’s wife will give him grace. It’ll set them both free and put their marriage on the road to recovery. You love people who give you grace. She can now have a husband who loves her more than she ever imagined. But she’s got to do what Jesus did and give him grace.
Set someone free today. Set yourself free. Give grace to someone.
Question: How did you feel the last time someone gave you grace? If you’d like to comment, please do so here.