Remember Fonzie from the 1970s television show Happy Days? He was the captain of cool, the sargeant of slick, and always, always right. Right? Well . . . almost. Click here to watch that famous click where he admits he made a mistake (and tries to say the word “wrong”) in order to keep Ralphie from joining the Marines. It’s priceless, a prime time memory that has stuck with me for years.
How easy is it for you to admit when you’re wrong? Are you secure enough in your self to fess up and say it, or do you rival the Fonz when it comes to avoiding the dreaded “W” word? When you open mouth and insert foot, are you able to eat humble pie without choking on it? The older I get, the easier it becomes to admit my foibles. But, perhaps it’s more than age at work here.
I think it has something to do with grace (see Romans 8) and realizing that nothing we can do or say or think can earn God’s love and acceptance. We can’t keep the law. In fact, the law drives us straight to our knees with the realization that no matter how hard we try, no matter how “good” we are, there’s no way we’ll ever achieve “perfection” under our own steam. All is gift–every single bit of it–our life, our intellect, our relationships, and our possessions. Sure, we may work for what we have, we may exert great amounts of honest effort and toil, but everything can be gone in a flash. Just ask the folks in Joplin, Missouri, or New Orleans, Louisiana, after natural disasters wiped their worldly goods off the face of the planet.
Yes, it is the gift of grace that sets us free to be the unique individuals we are all created to be. By grace alone through faith (sola fide) we are justified, and that’s incredibly good news. What’s a pity is how stingy we are sometimes in extending that grace to others. Our human nature is to scrabble for the pinnacle of rightness, to come out on top, even if that means breaking relationships and trampling on feelings.
Part of living into that grace, of growing into one’s potential as a child of God, is to extend to others what has been given to you. We’re all going to mess up, make mistakes, say stupid and hurtful things, and pretty much make idiots of ourselves at some point in life–maybe even at many points in life. If we can’t forgive ourselves, then how can we possibly expect to forgive others when they make mistakes?
So, if you suffer from the Fonz’s aversion to admitting wrong, keep working on it. Remember that God loves you dearly, in spite of your human shortcomings. God sees you are you will be, as you can be, as you are becoming. God sees others with those same eyes of love. When you open your mouth and firmly insert your foot, as you certainly will, just admit it and get on with it–life that is. Try to better, try to love more, and be sure not to take yourself too seriously. Oh, and be sure to cut others plenty of slack, too. Look for the good; trust me, if you look hard enough you’ll find it.
We are all works in progress, and when we work together life is so much better. A life of thanks-living includes amples sides of forgiveness and grace, seasoned with laughter and love. Whether you like it or not, be sure to order up a serving of humble pie once in a while and share it with a friend. Chances are you’ll be glad you did!
Lent 40/40/40 Update
Today I am thankful for our Friday Morning Book Discussion group members. We gather at Christine’s Coffee Shop in Waynesboro twice a month to share some good brew and books. It’s a fun group of folks. Thanks for making my day brighter!
I finally parted with my Eddie Bauer Fair Isle zip up sweater, matching turtleneck, and thin wale cords. They’re all in various shades of brown, which doesn’t go with my current attempt to create a functional minimalist wardrobe based on black and colors that work well with black. Instead of keeping them in my closet because they’re “too good to get rid of,” I’m sending them to the rescue mission.
I am thankful for people who love and care about me in spite of myself. I am grateful for friends, parishioners and family members who are willing to trust, forgive, love, and laugh. I hope and pray I am capable of giving to you the same level of trust and transparency. You make life a rich and wonderful experience, and I am blessed to have all of you in my life.
Photos courtesy of saraandthegoonsquad.com and craftybmwife.blogspot.com. Thanks!