Real talk: we screw up. If you’re me, you do it a lot. Sometimes it’s no big deal. Sometimes it’s REALLY bad. Like bury-your-head-like-an-ostrich bad. Like I-don’t-want-to-face-the-day bad.
I’ve been there. Frequently. In fact, that’s where I was yesterday and most of today.
See, I work as a cashier. And yesterday when I went to count my drawer at the end of my shift, I came up short. A significant amount. Translation: there was a lot of money missing.
I cannot tell you how mortifying it was. Not to mention how bad it looked to my manager. I got in serious trouble. And all of it was due to my own errors somewhere along the way. I looked – and felt – completely incompetent. I told Jesus in prayer this morning that I felt like “an incompetent ignoramus idiotic boob”. (Yes, those exact words.) I thought to myself, I am an L-7 Weenie.
It reminded me of all the other times in my life when I’ve screwed up: I insulted a dear friend. I yelled at a door-to-door television salesman. I knocked my softball teammate’s pizza onto the ground, and she berated me for it. I ate a powdered sugar doughnut in class, and my classmates thought the powder all over my mouth was nauseating. I was the worst player on my basketball team, and the other players let me know it. And when I worked as a hostess at a restaurant, the waitresses would let me know how I did by giving me a percentage of their tips. One night, I received a total of $7. Translation: You sucked. This is not an exhaustive list. This is barely scratching the surface, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind. Because every time I screw up, these are the things my memory automatically reminds me of. All my faults, flaws, and failures. And then I mope around like this:
Maybe you have these moments, too. Maybe you bombed a test, or totaled your car, or forgot you had work and missed your shift, or said something that just “came out wrong”, or lost a really important check that needed to be mailed, or tripped in the cafeteria in front of everyone and spilled food all over yourself (oh, wait, that would be me!) , or you’re surrounded by people who pick apart everything you do and point out everything they think is wrong with you, or maybe you know you did something wrong and feel ashamed, or maybe you carry around a lot of labels people have placed on you, and you feel like you’ll never be good enough and that you’re just a big screw-up.
See, when we try to live up to the standards all around us – the standards of the world, our friends, family, coaches, bosses, teachers, and even ourselves, we are always going to fall short. I thought if I could just be this, do this, say this, wear that, watch that, maybe then I wouldn’t feel like such a loser and a let-down. But no matter how hard I try to be perfect, I will never succeed. I will always find myself making mistakes and messing up. That’s just life.
The good news is, what I am or am not good at doesn’t define me. What I can or can’t do doesn’t determine who I am. What they think of me doesn’t determine my value. My worth isn’t based on the amount others assign to me. It isn’t affected by how many times I’ve sinned or how many times I’ve messed up. And the same goes for you: you are of infinite worth. You are precious, valuable, and irreplaceable. No matter how many mistakes you make, it doesn’t matter; that’s not who you are. Who you are is God’s adopted child. His son or daughter. He claims you as His own, and you mean everything to Him.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you…Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you.I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:1-2, 4)
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name (Isaiah 49:15-16)
Do you understand it? This is how the God of the universe feels about YOU! He looks at you with eyes of love and calls you to Himself. Even when you mess up. Even when you feel like Pigpen with all the sin you’ve been carrying around.
Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
So however you feel about yourself, or however you’re labeling or defining yourself; no matter how other people are labeling or judging you; no matter how many times you screw up, sin, and generally look like a baby sitting in their own mess, God still looks at you with the tender eyes of love. He has made you His child through the sacrifice of His Son and the waters of Baptism. And there is nothing you can do – literally nothing, ever – that can change that. Your childhood isn’t something that can be revoked or lost. It is irrevocable. It never goes away. Once you are God’s child, He never ceases to fight for you. He never stops calling you closer. He, by becoming human, allowed Himself to become desirous, needy, and even thirsty for your love (John 19:28). He wants you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
See what love the Father has lavished upon us, that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are…Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. (1 John 3:1-2)
Please please please know that this is who you are, for it is the truth, and it will set you free. It’s what freed me (read my testimony here). I now know that even when I feel like an L7 Weenie and my life feels like a pathetic load of barnacles and I feel like Pigpen wallowing in my filth and sin, God still loves me. And nothing can ever change that.
What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor 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 (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
And you know what I’ve found? When we admit our failures, admit our weaknesses, admit we’ve screwed up and that we can’t do it on our own, He helps us. Case in point: today when I closed down my register, my cash was exact to the penny. Not a nickel was missing. #GloryToGod
So stop beating yourself up over what you did wrong or what you’re unable to do. God is greater. He never stops fighting for you. And He loves you infinitely.
Song suggestion: How He Loves by David Crowder; Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture
Video suggestion: You: Life, Love, & the Theology of the Body