Can I whisper a funny secret in your ear really quick?
This is it:
Sometimes when you’ve messed up, and don’t want to be honest and tell the truth, the best thing you can do for yourself (and the people around you) is be honest and tell the truth.
True story. This was my second year serving as the Director of the local Classical Conversations community. We wrapped up our school year with a fun and happy bang, and shortly afterwards, I had the pleasure of attending a day of training in preparation for serving as Director again next year.
At a mini “break-out session” I sat down with a few other directors and heard some words in the back of my head from a respected mentor a dozen years ago: “You can be honest, or more honest, or most honest.”
I went with most honest and shared that I felt like in a certain area of my role as a Director this past year I’d totally failed. Like not even a little. Big time. I felt like I could point to specific consequences of that failure. And — maybe I was being hard on myself — it was hard to be honest and just say “I messed up.”
I was a little bit afraid of judgement. At least discouragement. Maybe a sideways glance or two.
Instead, I was wrapped up in an embrace of acceptance and encouragement and given words that gave me such cheer, and have been rattling around in my brain ever since:
This sweet new friend went on to encourage me to look at how much I’ve learned from it. How I’ve grown closer to God. And it struck me: this is truly the heart of the Gospel. We will mess up and fall short and err again and again. The grace of God is available. The forgiveness of God is paid for. The hope of God will help us get up and try to do better next time.
I realized that there is an incredible power in being willing to be honest about failure.
When you admit your failures you:
Encourage others to believe they can make mistakes and still “be okay.”
Demonstrate the power of hope and forgiveness.
Model the “I will get back up again” attitude that is so hard for those of us who only always ever want to get it all right the first time.
Give people the permission and encouragement to be brave and to try, even if they’re not going to get it all right.
I’ve wrestled often over the course of this month with those Good Words we’ve been talking about around here: Be of Good Cheer. I’ve realized I find it especially hard to be of good cheer when I look in the mirror and feel displeased with my fragile humanity. My failures and shortcomings. The times when I say I will and don’t or say I won’t and do.
But this is the goodness of God at its finest hour!
We fall so short…and are SO loved anyway! We mess up so big… but we are never too messed up for God to unravel our troubles and give us hope and purpose. We lack and stray and sin, but God is able to use these shortcomings for our good — where sin abounds, grace abounds more — and then He turns our hearts, helps us hear His voice, and empowers us to get up and try again.
If you are struggling with your own failures, friend, you can truly Be of Good Cheer. Our faithful God loves making beauty out of mess. And when you are willing to own, and even share, your failures, you give others permission to breathe a little easier. You show the world that God that doesn’t demand perfection — that instead He welcomes our imperfect and longing hearts. That we can try and fail and keep going.
There is so much learning, so much growth and so much beauty when we are willing to look our failures right between the eyes and own them.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation;” [And sometimes it will be the result of your own doing, but that doesn’t make those next words any less true.] “But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
He has already overcome… and He will help us do the same.
So be of good cheer.
P.S. Side Note! If you’re a parent looking for a way to connect with your kids, I truly cannot recommend the book The Read-Aloud Family highly enough. Why to read with your kids, what to read, how… there is such a wealth of great information inside this fantastic book by Sarah Mackenzie. If you’re interested in a full book review, let me know — I just wanted to share it because I read it cover to cover SO quickly and was just so grateful for the wisdom and advice inside!
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