The other day I was picking up some parts at a store which was training a new employee. The guy was trying to find the right part for his customer and had worked pretty hard on finding just the right piece. He went to the back, found what he was looking for, and brought it back to the front. Sure enough, it was wrong. So the man training him came over and found the correct piece, within about 30 seconds.
The new employee flushed and began to apologize. “I am so sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I don’t know how I messed that up.” He even began to measure the item off to the side so he could figure out where he went wrong.
I felt uncomfortable for him.
I wanted to give him a hug (which I am pretty sure is not allowed in the oil business, but I have yet to test the theory) and let him know: “It’s okay you screwed up. They found the right piece. You’re still learning. No one is mad at you. It happens.” His trying to save face made the situation worse than just saying: “Oops. Sorry.”
From there I headed to the local DMV, which is always a recipe for a good time. However, this time I had made an appointment. Thirty minutes after my appointment time, the lady called me over and asked if I had registered online. I said yes, and she asked to see my confirmation email. She looked at it and said: “The 24th is next Monday.”
I felt my cheeks flush, and I said: “I am so sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I don’t know how I messed that up.” I even double checked my phone to see if she was right.
The lady said with a big smile: “It happens a lot. See you next week!”
My strong empathetic reaction to the new employee came screaming back to me. I was embarrassed for him because I do the same thing. When I screw up, instead of owning it I furrow my brow in the best confused/smell the fart face I know how to make. I look for excuses or double-check the problem because surely I could not have made the mistake. I have my stuff together, how could this have happened?
Mostly because I am not paying attention.
And if I could learn to admit that and move on with my life, I would make so many situations in life so much easier.
I make mistakes. You make mistakes. Own it. Move on.
Now these are just silly examples, but I think they reflect something that happens in our hearts. Over time, we tell ourselves the most important thing we can do is appear to have it all together. We spend a lot of energy on appearance management. But it is hard to keep that facade up for long.
And if we are trying to keep up this facade, over time something much darker creeps into our hearts. In order to keep up my appearances, I need to find people I can look down on to feel better about myself. I become a lot like Simon.
Jesus tells Simon: one who has been forgiven little, loves little. Jesus is not hoping Simon will go sow some wild oats. He is pointing out something in Simon’s heart. If you think you don’t need much grace, you won’t receive much. And you definitely won’t give it out. If you want to learn about grace, look at this woman. She knows who she is. And when she is accepted by Jesus just as she is, grace takes on a whole new meaning.
Grace changes everything.
But if you think you don’t need it, it’s just a nice word you that doesn’t matter much in real life.
This week, we see the power of admitting we don’t have it all together. Faith is not about getting it right and keeping the Law (as Paul phrases it), faith is admitting we need grace. And this grace is okay with our failures and gives us the power and energy to move forward. But we have to learn to admit we don’t have it all together.
As someone who is less than a year into a new job, one of my favorite things at work is when the other guys screw up. It is a huge relief. Because it reminds me I’m not the only one.
Admitting our faults and flaws is not just freeing for us, but it is freeing for others as well. It keeps us from the harsh judgment of Simon. It keeps us from having to work so hard on appearance management. And it also frees others to admit they don’t have it all together as well.
So this week, let these Scriptures be reminder to join in the Ordinary practice of admitting your faults.