Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
Stumbled Again... Really?
“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”
Romans 7:18-20 (The Message)
It was a normal Thursday morning as I headed to work. For the most part it was like every other day that week, except for the massive thunderstorm raging outside when I opened my garage door. “Ugh,” I thought, “where’s my umbrella? Oh yeah, I moved it to the trunk last weekend.” Happy to know where it was, I popped the trunk, grabbed the umbrella, threw it in the back seat and was on my merry way.
Just out of my subdivision and almost to the highway, I looked up at my rear view mirror and then to the cell phone holder mounted underneath. To my horror, it was empty. Immediate panic! You know the feeling. “Where’s my phone!”
Off to the side of the road I quickly swerved, frantically rummaging through my bag, my purse, the seat, the floor, but I found nothing. Then I remembered what I had done, and out into the pouring rain I darted to see if my phone was on top of my car where I had put it while grabbing for my umbrella…nothing.
I decided to retrace my steps (several miles worth) to see if I could find it. The drive back home produced nothing. Hopeful that maybe I was mistaken, I went inside and looked through the entire house but it wasn’t there, so I slowly made my way back out again. As I reached the edge of my subdivision, there in the middle of the busy road leading to the highway was my phone, underneath about an inch of flowing water. Needless to say, the phone was toast (soggy toast).
One hour and a $200 deductible later, my new replacement phone was on its way, but I was so angry with myself. Because my brain decided not to work properly that morning, I was out time, money, and the much-needed resources my phone held.
It isn’t the accident itself that made me so mad; it was because this wasn’t the first time.
Roughly six years ago I did the same thing, and vowed to NEVER, EVER put my phone on top of my car again. And you know what? Ever since that day I never had, until this week.
It is so infuriatingly ridiculous! I made this mistake years ago, learned my lesson, and decided to live differently. Then in one moment of not thinking clearly I make the same mistake, with the same consequences. How does this happen?
Besides the obvious frustration (because let’s face it, for most of us our phones are our life-lines), I have been able to let this go, chalking it up as an accident. No harm done overall. However, driving to work today and looking at the new phone sitting happily in the holder where it belongs under the mirror, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels this situation has to the bigger issues of life. My mind then went to the verses above from the Apostle Paul.
Early in my faith I was always confused by these verses. I mean Paul is one of the most amazing Christians to ever live, right? Why would he struggle with doing things he didn’t want to do or not doing what he should do? Of all people shouldn’t he have had his life together when it comes to living for Jesus?
First of all let me say it’s ok to ask questions likesthese, because that’s how we make sense of our faith. But second, after years and years of following Jesus, I finally understand part of what Paul is saying in these verses.
This side of glory, we will never be perfect!
I am so grateful this great hero of the faith humbled himself and followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to record for us how he struggled. Because the truth is, no matter how much we love our Savior, confess him with our mouths, and try to live for him in this world, we will never be perfect or get things right all the time. It’s impossible in this broken world.
This doesn’t mean that we give up and live however we want, but it does mean that we give ourselves and those around us grace when we mess-up. Even if it’s a mistake we’ve made before.
I wish I could say that I don’t mess-up in the same areas of sin and brokenness, but that wouldn’t be true. To say otherwise would give a false picture of what it truly means to live this life with Jesus. What I can say is daily I am growing in the love, mercy, and grace my Savior extends to me, and in return learning to extend the same to those around me.
If I can give myself grace for killing my cell phone twice, certainly I can give myself and others grace over the things of eternal significance. It's not an easy task, but one definitely worth striving towards. What do you think?
For Your Reflection…
For those of you who follow Jesus, why is it so hard for us to extend grace to others and ourselves when we have a repeat struggle or sin?