A friend of mine called one afternoon, in tears. She messed up. No way around it, no sugar coating. She made a mistake. It left her feeling disqualified.
I resonate with the feeling. I’m an Enneagram 3-failure is my kryptonite. The accompanying shame is my greatest fear. That’s the kicker, right? The shame. The sucker punch in your gut that you can’t shake. That feeling not just that we did something wrong, but that there’s something wrong with us.
Mistakes happen. We all know that. We all make them. But there’s this pervasive sense that we shouldn’t.
If only we had planned better, worked harder, been smarter, caught ourselves sooner, it wouldn’t have happened. Mistakes feel like an indictment.
Lies, all lies.
We are too hard on ourselves
Gosh, I wish we could let ourselves make more mistakes. I wish I could let myself make more mistakes. Later that afternoon I texted my husband about a decision I made that resulted in us missing a deadline, and I told him, “now I’m questioning all my life choices.”
It was a $20 mistake.
His response, “So you’re questioning all your life choices over $20?”
Yes! Yes, I am. Let me have this! It feels proportionate!
But it’s not. I’ve said it before, and I will say it until my dying breath-we are too hard on ourselves. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else is. What feels disqualifying is just evidence of being human. It’s an opportunity to brush ourselves off, laugh, keep going, and maybe learn something in the process (like pay closer attention to deadlines).
When my friend called that day, she said, “It feels like grace has run out for me.” (One of those, “I know it’s not true, but right now it feels true,” statements).
I get it. That $20 mistake came on the heels of a much larger, much more life-changing mistake we made a few weeks prior regarding our son’s housing for college that stung. Hard. We’re understandably a little gun shy. It feels like grace could run out any minute.
But it won’t. It doesn’t. Not for us. Not for her either. Cause grace doesn’t run out. (say it again, this time with feeling!)
Grace. Doesn’t. Run. Out.Mistakes don’t shut the door to grace-they open it. They are an invitation to others to come alongside us and speak the kindness and gentleness we need. It’s easy to believe that people stick around because we’re doing it right. Every time we fail, we give others the chance to prove that those who really love us stick around regardless.
Look to The Source
Oh sure, the reality is some won’t. From some people, grace may run dry. But (and I say this with great love for all the people) people are not a reliable source of anything.
A source, yes, but not THE source. And those who can’t offer grace usually don’t because they struggle to receive it for themselves. People can’t give what they don’t have. So while we may hope for grace from others, we can always rely on the Source.
The Source of grace never runs dry. God is overflowing with unmerited, never-ending grace.
So let mistakes be a reminder that our souls are thirsty, and the well is never empty. Let them lead us to admit that we’re human, limited, fallible, weak, and needy. Failure humbles us and causes us (hopefully) to reach out for just a little more grace.
Be a grace giver
And friends, we need to grab that grace. Not only for ourselves but for others. The more we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to be human, to stumble and fall and get back up, the more we let the people around us do it too.
Then we end up living in a world where we’re all less afraid. We take risks because failure isn’t fatal, just humbling. When we learn to live with mistakes, we become the grace givers. And the world needs more grace givers.
So where did you fail today? How will you give yourself permission to make some mistakes? There’s more grace for you. There’s more grace for all of us.