We had dinner with close friends the other night.

When one of them came in, he was rushed. He was still wearing the same clothes he had on all day in the hot sun. He took a long drink of water and then started to tell his story about his day.

It started out promising. There were lots of good things packed in that day . . . until it started going south.

Someone got impatient. Someone else got mad. Another person’s feelings was hurt.

Suddenly the good day with family was a mess.

He shook his head.

“Family, right?” Richard said, and we laughed.

Because we get it. We all do. Even when we love each other like crazy, even in the heart of doing what we love the most, things can go wrong.

I made a confession to these close friends, and I make it to you.

I mess up.

Even when my intentions are good.

Even when I want to do the right thing.

Even when I love someone so much I don’t have the words to express it.

It’s usually out of hurt.

Okay, it’s always out of hurt.

So, I confessed to my friends that night what had taken place just that day.

I got frustrated with someone I care about. I said something I wish I hadn’t.

Yep, right to that person’s face.

We all mess up. All of us fall short.

Grace, grace, grace.

Good grief we need it, don’t we?

I’m still not sure how things went so wrong so fast — okay, like south of the equator south.

There were a lot of reactions that simmered after that in my heart and none of them led me in the right direction.

Later that day, I talked it through with the guy I love the most.

No, not Richard, though I love him a lot.

The big guy.

God and I sat outside on the deck and I told him how I felt, but then he showed me a few things that I needed to see.

I could remain stuck in my feelings or move on

There’s something satisfying in going over a scene over and over again to justify your actions, or to vilify someone else’s.

It’s also not real helpful. It doesn’t allow me to examine what I might do differently next time, or to address the real issue.

Do you know how many people remain stuck for years? They hold on to feelings and their sense of “rightness” even after they’ve forgotten the original offense.

What a waste!

We are meant to live free, not tangled in the past. Not for a few days. Not for a few years. Definitely not for a lifetime.

A gentle answer

My response came out of deep hurt. My motivations were pure. I really was trying to help. I really do love this person, more than I can express.

But the Lord showed me my response reaction.

What if I had just slipped away?

Maybe it wasn’t my job to fix anyone that day.

What if I had shown mercy?

That would have changed my reaction of hurt to a response of compassion.

What if I had spoken the truth, but in a better way?

Yep, that might have helped a lot.

Regardless of whether I thought I was right or wrong, I own my reaction. It’s mine to bring to the Lord, and ask him to help me the next time.

It’s okay to speak the truth

This is where it gets tricky. I’m not talking about speaking truth to others, though we should have that space in close relationships, but I’m talking about being truthful with ourselves.

I have a safe place to talk to God about how that day made me feel.

Just like with our friends that night. He shared about his day and frustration and how things went wrong, and we were able to pray about it together and even laugh at how ridiculously wrong things can go when we don’t see it coming.

We all need that safe place.

We can talk to God about things that we don’t understand, or open our heart for his gentle examination so that we can learn from it. We can weep over things that don’t make sense, and hold up our hurts . . . and we aren’t condemned for it.

Truth is welcomed, and truth is given.

So, how do we move forward and forgive when we screw up?

lam 3_23

Clean slate.

New mercies every morning.

Those aren’t just pithy statements. They are promises.

I can become mired in my mistakes or meet God to find the miracle I need.

Today is a new day. Thank God for that!

What about you?

Are you stuck in the mistakes or messes of yesterday? Or will you sit with your God, the one who loves you like crazy, and allow Him to sort through the mess with you?


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