When I Mess Up

Maybe I should just title this, Every Day of My Life.

I said something to a friend a few months ago that still creeps up into my head every so often. It was one of those things where I had formed an opinion about someone. I knew voicing it served absolutely no one, except for my pride and my temptation for good gossip. It made me feel better about myself. As though I couldn’t keep it from coming out, I just said it, without much thought. Like word vomit, I had voiced something that I could no longer contain to just my own little brain. It was now in my friend’s thoughts, making her form opinions about someone based on my prideful, arrogant statements. Gossip is cruel.

My friend probably didn’t notice in the slightest that I had just messed up. But I knew; the minute the words cascaded past my lips, my stomach clenched. Why am I saying this? I am one heck of a sinner.

There are other instances in my life where I have messed up that make me cringe just at the near thought of them. Reliving them in my head feels like torture. And sometimes, they come back to mind like an unfriendly reminder that I am not such a great human after all. At any time I am bombarded with thoughts like, I should tell this person what I really meant. I can’t believe I said something so stupid. I have to correct this. I can never fix this. They probably hate me. They probably think I’m _____. They probably don’t actually like me.

With friends, it feels easier to ignore confrontation when I mess up. With my husband, I have to deal with my mistakes. When I voice what I think is happening, Evan normally gives me a look. I know it well. It’s his was of saying, “No Janelle. You know that isn’t true.” And nine times out of ten, I know it isn’t true; whatever I feel and think is a misconception, a lie I have believed, or a recollection filtered through a sinner’s mask. And nine times out of ten, I am apt to believe lies, not the truth that I know in my heart.

I mess up, a lot. I stumble over words and let unkind things come out. I say things to my husband that I shouldn’t say. I think things in my head about people that are just harmful.

If every day of my life is like this, and I have survived so far, then I’ve got to believe that I’m going to be okay. God has a redeeming grace that does not fail, does not cease, and calls me out when I’m messing up. He isn’t scared away every time I trip over my own sin. He isn’t laughing, He isn’t embarrassed, He isn’t full of scorn. He is ready whenever I am to get back up, to deal with my mistake, and to move on to the road that leads me home.

Sometimes it takes my mess ups and my sin to give me perspective: when I mess up, I am never too far gone. Instead of kicking myself for being a gossip, I can pray right in the middle of it for God to redeem me right there. For there to be a change in my ways. For my mind to be fixed on His ways and not my own. There is redemption wherever you are, and you are never too good for it, either.

When I mess up, I think I’m losing. But I’m just getting another dose of grace. And I am grateful for everything God gives, because He loves me so much to never let me be too far out of reach. He won’t relent. I’ll take a relentless God over my mess ups any day.

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