Short Tips and Long Erasers

PencilKara asked me this morning if grownups make mistakes.  I met her with a blank stare.  “You do live here and share space with me, right?”  I should give some background here.  Handwriting is tedious work, and Kara is giving it her best.  Perfect letters and numbers just don’t write themselves, and they are not written well over a day or two, but over many days, weeks, and even years.  My handwriting is horrendous, so thank you Lord, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs for the computer!

As Kara sat at her desk with pencil in hand carefully writing an uppercase “M,” I watched her struggle to keep the letter within the manuscript margin.  I made her erase one of the “M’s” and write it again.  She guffawed, sighed, and kicked back in her chair with, “Aw c’mon!  It is too hard!  I can’t.”  I told her to try again and to not say that she can’t, because all she did was make a mistake.  I told her that she will make a lot of mistakes in life, but that instead of making them over and over again she can learn and grow from them.  There is a life lesson in that somewhere.  After this exchange is when Kara asked me if grownups make mistakes.

I think a lot of us “grownups” shudder at mistakes, both those that we made (regret) and those that we keep making (shame).  The mistake I often make involves my temper.  I lose it a lot.  Just ask my kids.  And my husband.    I lose patience easily with myself and with others, and every time I do this I feel deflated and ashamed.  I do not want to give up trying, though.  And by trying I mean relying.  I am learning to rely on God so that I do not keep making the same mistake over and over again.  There are mistakes like forgetting to take the casserole out of the oven, but then there are real mistakes of a more serious nature that involve sin.  The thing with sin for the Christian is that it is not enough to recognize that we are forgiven, but that when we sin it is like a warning signal goes off telling us to “WATCH OUT- DANGER!”  If we do not heed the warning (conviction by the Spirit), then we will more than likely do it again and again and again.  It is like writing with a pencil without an eraser.  “Oh, I just blew it.  Oh well.”  And keep going…

I am learning to write with a short tip and a long eraser.  To not be so reckless with my words, my tone, and my attitude.  I have to work at this.  Take frequent steps back.  Confess.  Repent.  Embrace God’s grace and try again.  There is no auto-pilot with sanctification.  It is a tedious, but glorious work.  God is right there to guide us, strengthen, and enable us along the way.  He does not say, “What?!  You failed at this AGAIN?!  Well, just put the pencil down.  It’s hopeless.”  No.  He understands and expects us to fail, but thankfully He is perfect and makes us perfect.  He is perfecting us even now.  This is not something of our own doing, but of HIS doing that we get to participate in.

So yes, Kara, grownups make mistakes, and so will you.  The thing with mistakes is that we must recognize them for what they are, ask God to help us to not repeat them, to learn from them, and watch God mold us more and more into His image.  We can be confident that what God began He will finish, and there will be no erasing of that.

 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6


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