We are so hard on ourselves sometimes, aren’t we?
I was driving down Rice Street yesterday and noticed the white light flashing over the intersection ahead, indicating that an emergency vehicle was somewhere in the area. Checking my rear-view mirror, I saw the ambulance lights flashing, coming up fast behind me.
I pulled over to the side of the road, up against a curb. (Just like Mr. Taus taught me in driver’s ed.) But there wasn’t enough room to get completely out of the driving lane. The car behind me zipped around my Ford Fusion and pulled over in the next block where there was a wider shoulder.
The ambulance swooshed by us, blasting its horn as it did.
So. Being the Midwestern, I-have-to-do-the-right-thing-always, easy-to-feel-guilty-about-anything, oldest child that I am, I started to feel … bad. I felt so awful that I hadn’t gotten out of its way fast enough. Or pulled over far enough. Or was on the road. (It didn’t dawn on me until later that perhaps they were honking at the car that zoomed around me. Or at something that had nothing to do with me. Perhaps I hadn’t done anything wrong.)
I wished I could write a letter:
Dear Ambulance Driver, I am so sorry if I did something wrong on Rice Street in front of you today. I don’t know what it was, but I’m so sorry. I didn’t intend to do anything wrong. I don’t know if I did anything wrong. And I am sorry if I did something wrong.
OK. Perhaps that exaggerates my thoughts a bit, but you get what I’m talking about, right?
Sooooo much wrong. So ridiculous.
As I thought of it again down the road a ways (because letting go of something that I might have done wrong when I didn’t mean to is not easy to do), I realized that it’s easy for me to quickly blame or shame myself for things that really aren’t big deals. And even easier to do with those that are.
Why can’t my immediate reaction be, “Oops! I wonder what happened there? I did what I could … not sure I could have or would have done anything differently. Back on the road!”
“Yup! You kind of messed up there, Gaye. Seek forgiveness, make it right if you can, dust yourself off, and move on.”
As those thoughts processed through my Scandinavian, Lutheran brain, it was as if all the blinking neon lights in an intersection went off at once and I realized …
God never blames me or shames me.
Isn’t that something?
That demeaning, less-than talk that goes through the zip code between my ears doesn’t come from His heart.
He’s the one saying in my real messiness, “Yup! You messed up there, Gaye. Seek forgiveness, make it right. Let’s start from a clean slate.”
There’s a lot of hope in that, isn’t there?
How about if we stop being so hard on ourselves?
We’re all going to mess up, you know. What matters most is how we respond to it.
So here’s the deal …
When we mess up, let’s do what we need to do to make it right.
And for those times when the horns honk, the fingers point, and the tongues wag and we can’t see that we’re at fault and we can’t stand the thought that someone is thinking we did something wrong?
It’s time to let it go and move on. Don’t you think?