Grabbing my car keys, I hollered a “goodbye” to my high school son as I headed out to the garage. I had fifteen minutes to make it to my appointment — more than enough time. I climbed into my parked car, buckled up, and put the car in reverse.
However, there was one teensy-weensy problem. The garage door wasn’t yet open. In progress, yes. But I hadn’t allowed enough time for it to finish its ascent.
Stunned, I slammed on the brake.
I’d hit the door — the brand new garage door my husband installed months before. And I’d hit it with the family car we were trying to sell.
No. Please, no.
“What happened, Mom?” The teenager poked his head outside, took in the carnage, shot me a look of shock.
Humiliation complete, my head dropped to the steering wheel.
What’s wrong with me?!
Yes, those are the first words that flew through my mind. Followed closely by What were you thinking?! and Why can’t you do anything right?!
A day or two later, I’d see the waste of those questions. But in the moment of my crisis, my brain threw criticisms faster than a clique of ruthless middle-school girls.
I felt nothing but shame. A garage full of it.
If you ask my friends and family to name my one fatal flaw, they’d likely tell you it has something to do with unrealistic personal expectations. I’ve long been too hard on myself. I expect excellence every moment of every day — as a mother, a wife, a friend and business owner. And yes, as a driver. I can’t afford to make mistakes! Which is why I gave myself a verbal lashing and grounded myself to my bedroom where I sobbed about decimated garage doors and my utter worthlessness.
After twenty-four hours of funk, my eighteen-year-old son shook me out of my self-loathing with a few wise words:
“Mom. Accidents happen. Let it go.”
Ugh, I hate it when my kids are right.
We do this, don’t we? We talk a good talk about grace, but in the heat of a failure, we can’t seem to find a shred of it. Truth is we expect quite a bit from ourselves. We expect to juggle a thousand responsibilities and not pay for it with exhaustion, to navigate illness and not require rest. We expect to show up, smile, and work hard, day in and day out, juggling our multiple roles, while maintaining a near-flawless performance.
However, sooner or later we rediscover our humanity. A missed appointment. An impatient response. A blown diet. A damaged relationship. A misspoken word. An obliterated garage door.
Faced with our failures, we plow right through grace and truth with our weapons of mass expectations.
What’s wrong with me?!
Other than asking the wrong question, nothing. At least, nothing grace can’t cure.
My friends, Jesus didn’t come so you and I could kill ourselves trying to be good enough for Him. He came so His death and life could cover us, free us, once and for all. To give us grace enough. It’s an insurance plan with no deductible, price paid. For our unintentional mistakes — i.e. destroyed garage doors — and the intentional ones.
Imagine! No shaking fingers. No disappointed glares. Instead, grace.
What failure are you lugging around? How about a mistake you can’t forgive? Maybe a wreck you’re refusing to release and restore? You may need to do damage control, make right some wrongs, offer an apology. You might even need to invest some time to rebuild.
It won’t be the first time a human needed to do the like. How do I know? Because it turns out the garage-door repairman who showed up at our house does the same thing forty hours a week. He fixes garage-door-sized mistakes.
Accidents happen. Let it go.
Don’t let your self-talk cause more damage than your driving. That’s the real mistake you can’t afford to make. Do what you can to fix it. Then, let it go.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)