Room for Error
by Pastor Dan White
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One of the many jobs I've had was selling cars. The sales manager was a member and regular attendee of a prominent Baptist church. He was friends with the pastor. But oh! Those morning sales meetings. He turned the air blue cussing us out. We were no good. We couldn't sell a heater to an Eskimo. He threatened to fire the whole lot of us and hire a new sales staff. All of these blasts were interspersed with an unhealthy dose of expletives.
I would leave the sales meetings feeling like I had been knocked down by a heavy weight boxer. My head reeled. I'd walk around the car lot trying to clear my head and get myself together to meet, greet, and try to sell a car to a prospective customer.
Room for error? Room for failure? Room for mistakes? Not in this world for sure!
Has someone ever stuck you with labels like lazy, ugly, stupid, dumb, and incompetent? Sure they have! My parents did it. My supervisors have done it. Church members did it.
If you hear a lie over and over, it can become truth to you. Lies like "it's all your fault, you can't do anything right, and you're an (expletive deleted)" can become ingrained in our psyche.
Blame is at the core of most of our emotional and spiritual disturbances. It's hard to shake off its negative consequences. The guilt that blame produces is overpowering. The weight of our failures will break us. There is no room for error in a world demanding perfect performance.
Another negative consequence is incorporating the feeling that "I am unworthy of love and deserve to be punished" into your self-image.
I call this false guilt. It's the kind of guilt my sales manager laid on us. It's the kind of guilt laid on us by parents when we were children, by a supervisor, by a spouse, or be anyone who assigns unjust blame to you.
The final crippling consequence is when you blame yourself. You condemn yourself either consciously or unconsciously. I've known and know people who are constantly apologizing for their perceived mistakes which are not really mistakes at all. Blunders are simply a part of bring human. But, living in a blame and shame environment can result in self-condemnation and self-punishment. You've suffered from this malady. I have too. I can speak from experience.
Someone has to be punished for failure and error. It's the law of retribution. Everyone looks for a scapegoat to blame. And that scapegoat is you and me. Then we play the scapegoat victim role when we punish and condemn ourselves. You feel that you have no right to feel good about yourself. How can you when everything is your fault?
What this really amounts to is brainwashing. Those who fail, those who make errors are brainwashed and lose the ability to think and feel independently. We believe falsely that we are unworthy of love and must be punished because others say we are "no good, worthless, and can't do anything right." So, we condemn and punish ourselves. We apologize profusely and say, "I won't do it again." I've done this. You have too. But guess what? You trip up again and again in an unbroken cycle of blame, guilt, and mistakes.
Is there room for error? Is there a way to break this self-destructive cycle? Not in this world. But, there is in God's world! God's world is one of grace and mercy. It is the world of Christ who accepts, affirms, forgives and loves us unconditionally. That's a world I want to live in! Don't you?
I don't have to perform perfectly in God's world. I have room created by mercy to fail. And, that's a BIG room. I didn't have to be super salesman to be accepted and affirmed by the Lord. I don't have to be the perfect husband and neither does my wife have to be the perfect spouse. My church members don't have to give 10% of their income. They don't have to attend every time the church doors are open. My children don't have to be perfect. If the the Lord accepts, understands, and forgives me, then how much more am I able to forgive, accept, understand, and affirm them.
Don't put your guilt on me! Don't point your finger at me! I'm brushing it off and saying, "Here, I don't want it. You can have it back!
I know who I am in Christ. I am His beloved son, and He ain't kicking me out of His family for dropping the ball. There's room for error, plenty of room, in His house built by Grace and Mercy.
So, abide in His house. Spend plenty of time in the room of Mercy. It's my favorite room! It's in that room where Jesus took the blame and punishment for my blunders upon Himself through His sufferings and agony on the cross. He gives me what I don't deserve. Yes, I deserve blame and guilt, but He says, "Blame me. Put your guilt on me. I forgive you. You are free. I don't condemn you. Stop condemning yourself. Live in the freedom I give. Enjoy the life I give to you."
"What I say is true, and you should fully accept it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But I was given mercy so that in me, the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus could show that he has patience without limit" (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
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Oh, how true! And, unfortunately, we "learn" through such example to fall into the same blame game. We can shame our children, trying to have them "turn out right," instead of encouraging them to persevere. A favorite scripture comes to mind: "...Godís kindness is meant to lead you to repentance...." (Romans 2:4) His kindness! That must mean the fire and brimstone messages we hear are most counter-productive! Thank you for another thought-provoking reading, here, Pr. Dan!