I’m not perfect, but sometimes I try to be. It’s not really a conscious decision; in fact, if you ask me, I will tell you that I have many faults. I know I am not perfect, yet when I make mistakes, which I am bound to do, I am pretty hard on myself.
For instance, I met a new student last Wednesday night. I had made some assumptions about her ethnicity based on the name she used on her online profile. I met her in person and began to talk about her language issues. I asked, “Is English your first language?” “No.” “Chinese?” “No, Korean.” Ouch. That’s the second time inside of a month that I had mistakenly assumed that a Korean student was Chinese. Of course both times I apologized, but that didn’t release me from the guilt, judgment, and reprimands that I heaped upon myself for hours — ok, days –afterward.
Shall we continue? My husband and I had been planning a trip to Cincinnati for Valentine’s Day. We had offered to watch our granddaughter so that our kids could get away overnight. He adjusted his schedule so that we could leave as soon as my class ended at 2pm. I had a test scheduled for my class, so that should be no problem. I would give them the test, then we would be on our way. Well, my test required a lot of writing. The class is only fifty minutes long. I spent the first five minutes discussing the next assignment. Then, I passed out the test and gave instructions. As I sat there, I realized that my test was taking much longer than I had planned. Only ten minutes remained in the class when the first speedy student turned his in. At the end of the allotted time, I still had about ten students writing. I probably should’ve cut them off. Class time is class time. However, I was doubting my ability to gauge how much time it should take to complete this test, so I let them continue. Some students just needed an extra minute — no big deal. However, a couple continued writing. Against my better judgment, I allowed one student to continue writing long past the scheduled class time.
Then, when he finally turned it in, I felt so uneasy, that I stopped to ask a senior professor what he would have done. With no thinking whatsoever he said he would’ve cut the student off. The allotted time is the allotted time. So then I felt awful. I had forced some students to rush in order to get to their next class on time while this student had the luxury of writing and writing. Add to that the fact that my husband was now waiting to leave on our trip — bags packed and loaded, coat on, car running — and I felt like I had made a pretty substantial goof.
But that’s not all, folks. We started driving amid what looked like flurries. Well, the flurries got pretty intense. Visibility was limited. Traffic was heavy. The first portion of the trip which usually takes about one hour, took an hour and forty-five minutes. We decided to pull over and re-group. As we approached the exit, we had a mere twenty yards of visibility.
Now some of you may think, “Bummer. Bad weather.” That would be logical. However, after we decided to turn back for safety’s sake and forfeit our weekend with our granddaughter, I did the shoulda, coulda, woulda game. I shoulda cut that student off. Why did I let him take that long? We coulda left right at 2 like we planned and been ahead of the storm (although I don’t know that to be true.) If I woulda written a better test, we could be in Cincinnati right now.
Been there? Guilt inhibits logic. Regret twists the facts. Self-condemnation clouds judgment. And then we wallow. And, as an experienced wallower, let me just share that wallowing is not of God.
As it turns out, my ‘bad test’ was effectively handled by all of my students. Not one of them failed it. In fact, the majority made it out with As and Bs. Further, our kids got their weekend away after all when a sibling stepped in to care for the baby. The husband and I got a much needed weekend at home with no obligations. And, we got to worship together at the church that we are now calling home.
Making lemonade? Nope, just being beloved.
Let me explain. I often find myself still on that treadmill of trying to do the right thing — of trying to be-perfect. It’s silly. I know. But I do it. And when I fail, I beat myself up. But when I listen, I hear the words of God.
I heard them this morning. I sat down to work through my Bible study on Hosea and I read these words, “God has not called you to be the ‘be-perfect;’ He has called you to be the ‘beloved’!”
Did you hear it? We are not perfect; we aren’t expected to be. We are beloved — this is evidenced by the fact that in the midst of my faults, the Lover of my soul turned us around, carried us home, gave us a weekend of rest, and most importantly whispered into my self-condemning thoughts, “You are my beloved.”
I’ll take that.
…I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.