I’ve had my fair share of adventures in babysitting.
I once gave a three year old boy an entire prepared box of macaroni and cheese on an adult sized plate. Hey, he didn’t have to eat it all. Plus, the mom asked me to “feed him this” while pointing to the entire box. So, I did. Haven’t we all had our Amelia Bedelia moments?
Or how about one of my finest babysitting moments when I accidentally turned on a pool heater and within days made the family’s pool like a hot tub? I bet you’ve done that. No? Really? You haven’t? You haven’t made an entire in-ground pool into a whirlpool sauna minus the whirlpool? Oh. Okay.
Well, then I’m sure you can relate to this other pickle I got myself into…
I was babysitting for a family for the first time. They had a couple of kids. Sweet kiddos. I watched them for several hours while their parents went out for the evening. After the mom and dad left, I played a few games with the kids and did all I could to make sure they had a great time. Then, I fed them dinner (in appropriate serving sizes, I might add). After more playtime, I got them ready for bed, read some books, and tucked the children in their beds.
Wanting to make a good impression on the parents, I ran downstairs to clean up. I wanted to leave the house in as good or even better shape than how it was when I arrived. With little time to spare, I cleaned the kitchen. I tidied up all the games and toys. I fluffed the pillows on the couch and re-stacked the magazines on the coffee table.
Thinking everything was ship shape, I was feeling hungry and decided to take a little snack break for myself. I managed to find a delectable-looking container of some kind of specialty ice cream that had all the bells and whistles of caramel ribbon with pralines or chocolate chip cookie dough or something else quite devilish in it.
Being the 16 or 17-year old that I was — and already somewhat body conscience — I decided I would only take a large spoonful out of the container and limit myself to eating only what I could fit on the silverware as if it were served on a cone. As I proceeded to slowly savor the seemingly small reward I had given myself for being such a good babysitter, I neglected to notice that the parents had quietly slipped in and were watching me meal on their ice cream with only a half-licked spoon in my hand standing next to an open container that was perched on their kitchen counter.
I wanted to somehow lift up their kitchen tile so I could cut, dig, or scrape a hole through their subfloor and scurry out of their crawl space never to face them again. Instead, I stood there like the ice cream eating fool that I later deemed myself to be and tried to explain that I was only using their spoon like an ice cream cone and that I was just getting ready to put their completely uncontaminated ice cream container back in the freezer.
Apparently, they weren’t buying it. (Silence is not always acceptance, ya know.)
They quickly paid me, sent me out the door, and no doubt, threw their ice cream remains out in the trash along with my phone number.
Don’t call us; we’ll call you.
What a silly thing for me to do. So stupid! But what is even more ridiculous is that that night was only the beginning of my stupidity relating to this endeavor. For YEARS following that evening, EVERY TIME I would go to the kitchen, open a container of ice cream, and dip a scoop into a bowl, I would mentally accost myself. My thoughts would go something like this (in a most agitated, lecture-style, internal voice):
How dumb could I have possibly been to not realize the embarrassment I was setting myself up for? And how inconsiderate was I to people who had welcomed me into their home and trusted me with their children that I would eat their ice cream directly out of the original food container like some kind of animal with a prehensile hand?!?! Ugh! (Can you sense my heart rate increasing with each word that flew through my mind?)
I would physiologically and emotionally relive the embarrassment over and over again.
Years later (yes, this went on for years), I had had all I could take of ice cream–of all things–triggering such recurring embarrassment and negative emotions.
It occurred to me as I had a firm conversation with myself that I needed to answer a few questions…
If one of your good friends, especially one of your funny friends, had told you this same story as it happened to them and not yourself, would you have such thoughts towards them? Would you shame them? Would you call them stupid? Would you feel a tiny rush of adrenaline every time you cracked open a tub of ice cream after hearing their story?
No, no, no, and no. I would probably chuckle and think my friend was adorably imperfect! She would be that much more endearing to me. So, why was it different when I had been so careless?
My pride is what lies to me and tells me that I need to be perfect on my own. It tells me that not only should I refrain from sin, but I should live a god-like existence of always doing right.
But the Lord tells me,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV)
Here’s the situation:
1. All people are in the same boat. This verse includes everyone. Me. You. Every person who has ever lived other than Jesus is part of this equation of not measuring up. There is one exception, and I’m not Him.
2. We all sin. Instead of following the ways of the Lord, we have walked away from Him and done our own thing. We have this old sin nature within us that rebels against God.
3. We all fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Even if we had never committed a sin, we would still fail to live up to God’s glory because we are all imperfect. Not only do we sin willfully, we sin by omission and we are prone to making “innocent” mistakes on top of it!
But there is good news for all of us in the very next verse:
“And all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24, NIV)
Because Jesus was willing to be not only a sinless, but also a perfectly complete sacrifice for us, we can all receive His grace at no cost to us if we are willing to take it.
So having received the gift of justification, I do not have to beat myself up about sin from my past, and I most certainly do not have to continue to be freaked out by the idea that I fall short of God’s glory. It’s almost hilarious to think of what I have essentially done in situations like this, except it really isn’t that funny…
I have, in effect, thought that I was better than God.
If God is willing to forgive my sin, my failures, my mistakes, my stupid choices, and even my naive imperfections when it cost Him so much, it is both tragic and arrogant that I have wallowed in these self-defeating thoughts for even one minute when grace is offered to me freely.
Ladies, when we are tempted to pretend we are “better than God,” each of us will need to remember:
1. If God is merciful and gracious with everything from my naive short comings to my most rebellious sins, I can choose to think more gracious thoughts even about myself.
2. My gracious thoughts will only be able to flow out of an unwavering trust in and gratitude for what Jesus Christ did to redeem me. He’s already FULLY paid for the fact that I fall short of His glory in every way. When I am trusting Him and appreciative of what He did, there is no room left for the pride of self-deprecating thoughts.
3. If I can embrace the imperfections of a friend as she shares “another one of her funny stories,” I can learn to not feel so threatened by my own. I can forsake pride, lighten up, and learn to give myself a break when I make a stupid mistake.
If God’s grace can remove even a host of terribly ugly sins (including the most insidious one — pride) and He empowers me to choose to no longer rebel against the One who humbled Himself to save me, I can also trust that the Lord has paid for every inch of where I fall short of His standard of complete perfection.
Is there anything you have beat yourself up for that you would be more gracious about if the situation belonged to your friend and you were only hearing the story from her?