Last night, I screamed at my daughter, consoled myself with a handful of M&Ms and a huge bowl of cereal (the sugary kind I hide in the pantry), and ended the night by skimming through 11 chapters of Psalms to catch up on my Bible reading plan. I went to sleep mentally drafting an apology email for one of the many deadlines I’ve missed recently and wishing desperately for a cleaning fairy to take care of the kitchen full of dirty dishes just down the hall. And did I mention that, for the millionth night in a row, I did not step on my treadmill (despite the 5K a mere two weeks away)?
Some days, I really can’t get anything right.
But these things, these little things that aren’t actually life-altering or -ending, are infinitely easier to confess and address than the more serious transgressions I face in rare moments of honest reflection. It’s easy – especially when I’m busy putting out fires and doing damage control for all those little things I mentioned – to ignore the pings of conscience and Holy Spirit, to sweep my sin under the rug, to simply avoid the truth of my soul.
It’s easier to ignore it, after all. Who likes to be reminded of her mistakes? Who is comfortable facing her failures? In the moment when we come face to face with our deepest failings, it’s tempting to look away, to move on, to pretend like that clarity never happened. Isn’t it?
I’m reminded of the way I trained myself to play the piano when I was an accompanist several years ago. When you’re the back-up music behind a soloist or group of performers, you aren’t supposed to make any mistakes. And if, heaven forbid, you do mess up, you’re supposed to do everything you can to avoid drawing attention to your clumsy fingers.
Don’t make a face. Don’t over-correct and hit more wrong keys. And whatever you do, don’t stop.
As an accompanist, I learned the art of covering up my mistakes and carrying on as if nothing had happened. However, by not acknowledging the mistake and correcting it, I often learned the piece of music incorrectly. So instead of covering up the wrong note and moving on, I drilled the wrong note into my head and hands and proceeded to make the same mistake every time I played.
Somewhere along the way, I’ve adopted this same habit for the mistakes I make in life.
Don’t show emotion. Don’t try too hard to fix it. And whatever you do, don’t stop.
See, I think that’s the key (no piano pun intended!). When we don’t take time to stop and reflect on our hearts and our choices what God might be trying to tell us, we can’t grow. Painful as it may be to fully admit our failures and come to God and those we’ve hurt on bended knee to beg forgiveness, we must do it. We can’t joke our way out of it or blame our way out of it or cross our fingers and hope-they-never-notice-what-we-did our way out of it.
Maybe this is an easy discipline for you. Perhaps you’re completely comfortable admitting your missteps and taking full responsibility for the damage you’ve caused. But for me, as a barely recovering perfectionist, this is so hard.
Even though I write and talk about giving up on perfect, I still find myself believing that while I may not be perfect, I’m pretty close. I try so hard and I’m a good girl and I do all these things and – BAM! It’s right about then that I get smacked in the face with a realization or confrontation about some way I have failed big time. And finding out I’m not doing so great, that I’ve fallen short, to feel it in my gut like a pile of bricks? It can be devastating to this not-so-recovered perfectionist.
And that’s where the growing pains come in. In the past several months, my eyes have been opened several times to something significant I’ve done wrong or not understood or simply didn’t know. Each time, I’ve struggled with accepting my need to grow because to grow means to admit I wasn’t perfect before. But until I stop and acknowledge my need for growth (or repentance or change), I’m going to keep making those same mistakes over and over.
Change is hard. But it’s so necessary and, in the end, well worth it. In the meantime, though, growing can be painful.
Have you ever experienced these kind of growing pains? How do you deal with the realization that you need to grow or change? Is it hard for you to face your failures head on, fully enough to really deal with them?Leave a Comment