I hate it when I mess up.
If you’ve ever had a mosquito hover in your face, you’ve probably faced the question, “Why would God make such an annoying, stupid creature?”
My mistakes, also annoying and stupid, leave me with similar thoughts: “God, why did you let me say something so stupid?” or, “Why did I have to act like that?”
I may never know the purpose of a mosquito, but after much experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about the sovereignty of God in my mistakes.
Failure might not seem so bad if it weren’t for the embarrassment and awkwardness which are often involved. Wouldn’t God just, you know, take away those unpleasant emotions? Why must he allow us to be humiliated?
Well, maybe teenagers need embarrassment. Maybe they need awkwardness. Because maybe, just maybe, that’s how God gets our attention so that we’ll hear the lessons he has for us.
1. Messing Up Teaches us What Not to Do
We’ve all seen the cartoons where a character tries to demonstrate how to do something, fails, and says, “That was to show you what not to do.” Or maybe, you’ve joked about that yourself. Of course, the speaker didn’t actually mean to fall on their face, but they’re able to brush it off. Once they’ve messed up, they have another chance to get it right.
And that’s the great benefit of being a teenager. Though we should live these years with all we’ve got, making the most of this season of life, we often fail to see that part of being a teenager is making mistakes and learning from them. Sometimes we see things as if they’re a matter of life and death, when in reality, they’re not that important–but they can prepare you for something more important.
Sure, you failed your interview at McDonald’s. Figure out what it is that you did wrong, and try again at Wendy’s. Then, when you’re being interviewed to be CEO of Microsoft thirty years from now, you’ll be glad you had the practice at McDonald’s.
2. Messing Up Humbles our Prideful Hearts
Remember the bad demonstration dude I mentioned earlier? He made an embarrassing mistake, and he tried to hide. He pretended he meant to make that mistake in the first place, but everyone knows he really didn’t. We cringe at how desperately he tries to maintain his reputation. Why can’t he just admit he was wrong?
Why can’t we just admit we’re wrong? Just like our comedic friend, our natural instinct when we mess up is to try to hide our mistake, or come up with excuses to justify our words or actions.
Why is it so hard to own up to our mistakes?
We’re worried about what others think of us. We’re too attached to the positive representation of ourselves that we want the world to see. We’re stuck thinking that life has to be as perfect as our Instagram feed, and this attitude of perfection–this make-believe charade–walls us in from the outside world, separating us from friends and family and everyone else.
We walk further and further out on thin ice to keep people from seeing our blemishes until suddenly we realize we’re floating away all alone on a chunk of ice not strong enough to hold us.
We need people in our lives, but pride drives us away from them. Even more importantly, we need God, yet our pride holds us back from following him.
So we have to choose. Which will it be–pride, or people? Will we cling to sin, or to our Savior?So we have to choose. Which will it be--pride, or people? Will we cling to sin, or to our Savior? Click To Tweet
When we see the wrecking ball of failure swing down on our pride, let’s not stand in its way. God sent it there for a reason–we’re better off without our pride. Instead of clinging to it and being demolished along with it, let’s watch those walls fall down and rejoice in the freedom of humility.
Each time we acknowledge our imperfection rather than trying to justify our mistakes, we’re one step closer to God and others.
3. Messing Up Gives us Empathy
Once we’ve accepted our imperfections and can rejoice in worshiping God rather than worshiping the fake image of our supposedly perfect selves, then we’re free to do something else. We’re free to be real with the people around us. We’re free to use our failures to empathize.
When our friends face failure, we can comfort them with our own inadequacy. Not being consumed by ourselves, we can share the stories of when we made the same mistakes and felt the same way. We can invite them to see the imperfection we all share and point them to Christ, who alone is perfect.
Christ gives meaning to our imperfections. Seeing our own brokenness becomes a beautiful thing when we see it in the shadow of the cross. Christ, the perfect son of God, took all our imperfections upon himself, so that one day we will be made like him. We can look forward to heaven, where there will be no embarrassments, no awkwardness, and no failure.Seeing our own brokenness becomes a beautiful thing when we see it in the shadow of the cross. Click To Tweet
Until then, these failures, these embarrassments, these uncomfortable moments are part of God’s good and perfect plan for our lives.
It’s a messy life, my friend, and we are messy people. But God is holding the paintbrush, and he is turning our mess into a masterpiece.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
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