Confession 448: The Importance of Fallibility

Ephesians 1_7-8 (CEV)

Rude…that’s how a random stranger described me as I ducked under some ropes to stand beside my husband and family waiting for a bus at Disney World. And, maybe I was. Maybe there are some social mores that dictate appropriate line positioning in highly crowded environments which I completely flaunted. But the truth is, in that moment, I really didn’t care.

I am not at my best when surrounded by great hordes of humanity. I get anxious, overwhelmed, and sometimes lose my patience. Disney World over Spring Break was a wonderful celebration of family. I throughly enjoyed the time our extended family shared and value the magical memories made in the happiest place on Earth. However, I do cringe when I recall the time I raised my voice at cast members who were just trying to do their jobs. I regret the moments when I forgot that the people cutting in front of me or using their double-wide strollers as battering rams were actually human beings, just like me, and beloved children of God. I’m embarrassed that, in the midst of tens of thousands of people all seeking the same experiences, I valued myself above others and let my temper get the best of me. In short, I feel bad about the way I behaved a few times during our Disney Spring Break trip.

The problem with behaving badly to complete strangers is that you don’t get a do-over. I can’t apologize to the cast members I was short with. I can’t seek forgiveness from the people I line jumped and explain that, in general, when I am well-rested and not surrounded by a sea of people, I’m really a kind and gracious person. I can’t go back and make better choices regarding my behavior. And that, my friends, is when self-deprecation sets in.

Like many of you, I do my best to reflect the love of Jesus wherever I go. I want God’s light to shine through me to others, so that others can know they are valued and loved. I want to show Christ’s compassion and grace in every situation. But, more often than not, I fall way short of those goals. My human nature kicks in, and I become grouchy, judgy, territorial, selfish, and negative. Instead of moving on, I dwell on my imperfections. I berate myself for not being better, for not trying harder, for not fully living into the person I know God has called me to be. In short, I beat myself up for being fallible.

But here’s the thing…fallibility is a part of the human condition. As Paul writes, we all fall short of God’s glory from time to time. We all get cranky, we all lose our temper, we all act selfishly, we all get judgmental, we all neglect Jesus’ call to love God and to love others. In short, we all fail to get it right at some point or another. And yet, fallibility is not always a bad thing, because often, it is our fallibility that draws us back to the table of God’s grace.

Fallibility is part of the process of grace

If we were infallible, we wouldn’t need God. We wouldn’t need his forgiveness, his mercy, his compassion. In short, we wouldn’t need grace. And so, our fallible moments provide us with a remarkable opportunity to receive God’s gifts once again. When we humble ourselves before the King, when we lay down our faults and mistakes and failures…

  • we receive grace
  • we receive forgiveness
  • we receive compassion
  • we receive strength
  • we receive encouragement
  • we receive direction
  • we receive wisdom
  • we receive love
  • we receive humility

When we place our fallibility before God, we, like Paul, can boast in our weakness because it is through our weakness that God brings his strength.

Peter understood fallibility. Peter, with his brash boasting and incredible confidence in his own superior intellect and authority denied Christ not once, but three times. Peter, the Jesus-proclaimed Rock on which the church would be built got it all wrong. He lost faith when walking with Jesus on the water. He tried to persuade Jesus not to take the path that God had laid out for him. He demands compensation for all he has sacrificed to follow Jesus. He falls asleep when Jesus needs him most. And finally, he resorts to violence in the face of opposition, despite the fact that Jesus preached peace.

Peter messed up time and time again. And yet, Jesus appointed Peter as the head of the early church. When Peter knelt before the resurrected Christ, he laid his fallibility at the feet of Jesus. And Jesus gave to Peter a sure and solid faith that allowed him to withstand persecution and spread the gospel message near and far.

So this week, let’s work on embracing our fallibility. Let’s lay our mistakes before God, and allow him to replace those mistakes with an overflowing portion of grace and mercy. Let’s decrease our drive to perfect and accept the reality of our human condition. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord, knowing that he will lift us up.

Blessings and Peace,