To be reminded of our own broken humanness is the most beautiful disaster. Somewhere within this dichotomy of wonderful and painful, you can hear steady breathing if you listen closely. The breathing out releases the truth and the breathing in reminds us that life is still coming in and out of our lungs. As children, we tend to be confronted with our mistakes. I wish desperately that I could remember the first time I was chastised, but I’m afraid to say it was too early to recall. I don’t know why I made a mistake, but I know I did. Several hundred times.
The most interesting part about our humanness is that we are innately wired to mess up. No one taught us how to lie, but we knew how. No one taught us to fear punishment and to hide in shame, but we knew how.
When we make a mistake, we mourn the loss of something. What could have been and what should have been done are all dead and gone. I don’t think that what hurts the most is the fact that we wanted to receive more; I think it’s the fact that we had so much left to give. You never know when the opportunity to continue to give will simply be taken away from you. It stings something awful. And it stings worse if it’s your fault.
And yet, mistakes are so beautiful because they bind us all together. It unites us to say that we have all walked in error a time or twelve hundred. We are all the summation of the ten million mistakes we have survived up until now. We are hypocrites, every one of us. We are all pointing with one hand, and damning ourselves with the other. We all would love to throw the first stone, but none of us can seem to muster up enough validity to do so.
Honesty has a way of forcing itself to the surface, no matter the amount of desire against it. And it sometimes knocks the wind out of everyone, including the source. It does this in order to test your lungs. You lose air, for just a moment. And in that silence, there is a moment where you don’t think you will ever learn to breathe again. Then, finally, a breath is inhaled. And nothing tastes sweeter than remembering how to breathe.
To the least and the best, to the first and the last – you are not alone.
To the ones who have no hope for the future in the confining space of your own mind – you are not alone.
To the good people who have had the wind knocked out of you from a mistake of your own hands – you are not alone.
To the souls who feel they will never get past this – you are not alone. And you will get past this.
Your shame may last through the night, but truth will come with the morning. Shame is just a falsification that is only defined by the lack of a truth – a truth that will bring enough peace to fill your lungs with air over and over again.
And with that truth comes grace, and forgiveness.
And if you wake up with air in your lungs, let it remind you that you were given this morning, this moment, this day to truly breathe grace.
And for those of us who are wronged, who are a people scorned, what about us? How can you possibly justify stepping forward without receiving vindication or revenge?
Oh, if only it was more obvious that vindication does not strengthen our steps, but rather weakens them.
Because as givers of grace, we must be willing to let it look differently sometimes. We must be willing to give grace in the form of discipline, in the form of tough love, in the form of self-sacrifice. A mother does not attempt to speak reason to her toddler, that he might understand the depth of “wrong” at such an early age. No, she offers grace in the form of reprimand. The toddler is better for it. And so is the mother. And she soon forgives him, for he knows not what he does.
Just as He forgives His children, who know not what they do.
To you who have been wronged and have the opportunity to offer grace – you are not alone.
To those who feel the brunt of the punishment given at your own hand, you are not alone.
To the leaders who discipline in order to show love, you are not alone. And you are better for it.
To the friends who have wronged me, I have forgiven you. I am not angry, I am not bitter. I have a clearer vision of what grace is. I have learned to reprimand out of love.
And I am better because of it. I am better because of you.