Christians human beings, we are very afraid of making mistakes. We can become perfectionists and not readily admit to it. But mistakes make us better, don’t they? They teach us what works and what doesn’t. They teach us more about ourselves, our weaknesses, and flaws. They help us improve. Busted Halo blogged a post called “What Works: Being imperfect doesn’t mean you’re bad, just human“. The blogger speaks about how he broke his Lenten commitment on the first day. This can lead to self-condemnation. But our commitments should be grounded in love, he says, not in an attempt to be perfect.
Love is essential because we will fall short, sometimes in spectacular ways, usually in embarrassingly mundane ones. We are not saints. And actually, by that standard, neither are the saints. Read about saints’ lives and you’ll find plenty of character defects at play. The point is: you aren’t God. So give yourself a break.
But what about when we fall into temptation? It doesn’t make us evil. It makes us human. As Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman, we need not condemn ourselves. As Jesus showed compassion to sinners, we must show compassion for ourselves! Mistakes can lead to amazing grace. St Paul said, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20b) I quote Phil Fox Rose’s beautiful insights again:
…to the individual sinner, [Jesus] said: Welcome, join me; change your ways but for right now, just have a seat. Jesus was radically welcoming and radically accepting. I’m not saying he didn’t find fault with behaviors, but he didn’t deem a person unacceptable when their behavior was. They were still welcome at his table.
I encourage you to read his full post. The point: Mistakes are human. Have Christ-like compassion for yourself, ask for forgiveness, learn from your fall, and move on. That is a beautiful way to live Lent (and life).
>> Read more about being human: Confession, Vulnerability, and Healing